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BrainDance

Anne Green Gilbert, Creative Dance Center, Seattle, WA www.creativedance.org The BrainDance, developed by Anne Green Gilbert, is an effective full body and brain warm-up for people of all ages. It is composed of eig t developmental movement patterns uman beings are programmed to move t roug from !-"# mont s t at wire t e central nervous system. As babies, we did t ese movements on our tummies on t e floor. $owever, cycling t roug t ese patterns standing or sitting as also been found to be beneficial. %y moving t roug t ese developmental patterns, c ildren and adults o&ygenate and reorgani'e t eir brains.

Benefits of the BrainDance


Neurological Re-patterning $umans are programmed to move t roug certain movement tas(s in t e first year of life. ) ese developmental movement patterns wire t e central nervous system laying a foundation for appropriate be avior and attention, eye convergence necessary for reading, sensory-motor development and more. W en patterns are missed due to birt trauma, illness, environment, ead in*ury, or not enoug +tummy time+ on a non-carpeted surface t ere may be missing gaps in a person,s neurological development. ) ese gaps may cause neurological dysfunction t at may later appear as learning disabilities, be avior disorders, memory problems, sleep disorders, speec , balance or filtering problems, and a ost of ot er difficulties t at may disrupt t e flow of normal development. Cycling t roug t ese patterns on a daily basis may correct flaws in a person,s perceptual process and reorgani'e or re-pattern t e central nervous system. Body Connectivity and Alignment ) e %rainDance reviews for us t e early baby patterns t at lay down structure in t e neuromuscular system, influence brain development, and elp us cope wit t e world in an embodied way. ) ese patterns, done in an orderly progression, elp us remember t e parts of our visceral and muscular system t at support our body structure. -ac pattern underlies and supports t e ne&t pattern and w en done in succession bring a w oleness, aliveness and connectivity to our use of t e body, w ic reflects an integration of body and mind. %y separating t e eig t patterns we become more aware of eac pattern. ) is allows us to discover w en it mig t be elpful to focus fully on a particular pattern to elp us wit ease of movement or bloc(ed body.mind areas. %y doing t e patterns in succession we connect and align all parts of t e body. ) is leads to w oleness and integration. Broad Assessment W en doing t e %rainDance wit your students, you will see individuals w o may ave trouble performing one or two patterns smoot ly. ) ese individuals may appear to move in a less integrated way t an many of t eir peers. ) is lac( of integration may indicate one or more missing gaps in t e wiring of t e central nervous system t at may cause problems in be avior, social s(ills, attention, or reading. ) ese individuals may s ow improvement in t ese areas over time by doing more wor( in all t e patterns on a daily basis. Instead of focusing on students w o are aving difficulties, present t e %rainDance to t e w ole class, giving constructive feedbac( to t e entire group. A student w o as a problem wit a specific pattern needs to strengt en t e earlier patterns before t e problem pattern may improve. Some individuals will find it elpful to wor( wit a t erapist or somatic educator w o is familiar wit sensory integration, neurodevelopmental patterning, and.or vision t erapy.

How the atterns Developed


) e baby does is or er own %rainDance very naturally in t e first twelve mont s of life if put on a smoot , noncarpeted surface on is or er tummy. %aby/s first !reath starts t e wires growing from t e brain cells. Tactile stimulation begins wit t e first touc of s(in on s(in and is essential for promoting appropriate be avior and emotional and social intelligence. In t e first two mont s of life t e baby will reac into space in order to connect wit er environment and curl bac( into t e womb position, demonstrating t e core-distal pattern. At two mont s t e baby as better ead control and will lift and turn t e ead in bot directions continuing t e head-tail pattern begun at birt . Discovering t e upper and lower !ody halves is ne&t as t e baby pus es wit t e arms and ands and t en wit feet and (nees. %etween five and seven mont s, t e baby reac es wit one side of the !ody, moving left or rig t side of t e body as one unit and t en t e ot er side. As t e baby crawls on er belly s e will develop ori'ontal eye trac(ing. %etween seven to nine mont s, baby pus es erself up onto ands and (nees and begins a cross-lateral reac from t e upper body. 0ertical eye trac(ing is part of t e growt triggered by creeping on ands and (nees. ) e convergence of ori'ontal and vertical eye trac(ing is essential for reading. 1rom one-year onward cross-lateral patterns appear in wal(ing, running and eventually s(ipping. ) e vesti!ular system begins developing in utero and continues to be very active t roug t e first fifteen mont s. ) e vestibular system analy'es movements t roug t e w ole body, elps us (now w ere we are in space and lin(s up to all forms of sensory information. ) is

very important system is used w en we read, ear, spea(, touc , balance and move.

BrainDance
" #!!! Anne Green Gilbert

) e %rainDance is an effective, full body.brain warm-up e&ercise based on eig t developmental movement patterns umans move t roug in t e first year of life to wire t e central nervous system. 2any of us missed a pattern, but by moving t roug t ese patterns wee(ly or daily we repattern our brains, align our bodies, develop better focus and concentration, and strengt en social and emotional s(ills. ) is e&ercise prepares all students for learning. ) e %rainDance may be used wit all ages 3toddlers to seniors4, and in all teac ing situations. ) e %rainDance variation described below is t e standing %rainDance for ages 5-adults. $owever, t ese patterns may also be performed sitting on t e floor or in a c air, lying down, traveling t roug space, mirroring or s adowing a partner, and wit a prop. 2any variations for all ages, including t e r yming %rainDance for ages !-5, are described in Brain-Compatible Dance Education (2006) and may be viewed on t e BrainDance D0D, available at www.creativedance.org.store. ". #. Breath# ta(e four to five deep breat s in t roug t e nose and out t roug t e mout . Benefits6 increase flow of o&ygen to t e brain7 awareness of importance of breat for ease and flow of movement. Tactile# Wit your ands, s8uee'e strongly eac arm and eac leg and t e torso, bac(, ead 3w ole body4. ) en tap lig tly w ole body, t en slap or pat w ole body, and t en brus 3scratc , pinc , tap, rub, etc.4 w ole body. )ouc all surfaces - topside and bottom side of arms and ands, face, ead, nec(, front torso and bac( torso, front and bac( of legs, feet. Benefits6 strengt en bonding7 develop sensory integration. Core -Distal# 2ove from t e center 3naval4 out, t roug and beyond t e fingers, toes, ead and tail 3pelvis4. ) en curl bac( to torso as you engage core muscles. 2ovement t at grows and s rin(s, stretc es and curls in big :;<s and little :o<s is great= Benefits6 develop a sense of :twoness< by relating to self > ot ers 3beginning of sociali'ation47 develop full body e&tension and awareness of core for correct alignment. Head -Tail# 2ove t e ead and tail 3lowest part of spine or coccy&4 in different directions. @lay wit movement t at brings ead and tail.pelvis toget er curving forward and bac(ward 3yoga cat-cow4 and side-to-side. Aeeping t e (nees bent w en standing elps to release t e pelvis. Wiggle and *iggle spine from ead to tail. Benefits6 increase spine fle&ibility and nec( strengt for a :lively< spine7 move t roug space wit ease7 create an open pat for central nervous system to fully function. $pper-%ower# Ground t e lower alf of body by pressing legs into floor wit a slig t (nee bend. Swing arms in different directions and stretc and dance upper body 3arms, ead, spine4 in different ways. Ground upper alf by reac ing arms out into space wit energy as t oug you were ugging t e eart . Dance wit lower alf B try marc ing in place or t roug space, do simple (nee bends, *umps, leg brus es and ot er actions. Cying on stomac wit legs e&tended, curl toes under and rest on elbows B pus forward and bac( from lower to upper. Benefits6 articulate body alves for mobility.stability, function and e&pression7 develop emotional grounding B one reac es for goals and sets boundaries in t is pattern. Body-Side: Make a big X with your body. Dance with the left side of your body while keeping the right side stabile (still). Then keep the left stabile and dance with the right side. Try bending, stretching, swinging, and twisting motions. With knees and elbows slightly bent like a W bring the left half of the body over to meet the right half and vice versa (like a book opening and closing). Follow your thumb with your eyes as it moves right to left and left to right. Do the lizard crawl with arms and legs open to the sides reach left arm and knee up then right arm and knee up like a lizard crawling up a wall. Move your eyes right to left and left to right (looking at the thumb near your mouth helps) to develop horizontal eye tracking. Benefits: articulate body sides; balance both sides of the body; develop horizontal eye-tracking and side dominance; working in the pattern helps one make choices in life. Cross-%ateral# Do a parallel standing crawl wit (nees and ands in front of you. Cet your eyes travel up and down loo(ing at one t umb as it reac es ig and low for vertical eye trac(ing. Do a cross-lateral dance finding many ways of moving cross-laterally in front and in be ind suc as touc ing rig t (nee to left elbow, left and to rig t foot, rig t and to left (nee, left and to rig t ip, s(ipping, etc. W en space is available, crawl on belly and creep on ands and (nees. Benefits6 integrate brain emisp eres7 develop vertical eye-trac(ing7 create comple&, t ree dimensional movements and :robust< t in(ing. &esti!ular 3t is pattern may also be done at t e beginning of t e %rainDance46 C oose a movement t at ta(es you off balance and ma(es you di''y. 0ary t e movements you do eac wee(. Swing upper body forward and bac(ward and side-to-side. 2a(e sure ead is :upside down.< )ip, sway, roll, and roc( in different directions and on different levels in and t roug space. Spin "5 seconds one direction, breat e and rest "5 seconds, t en spin "5 seconds t e ot er direction. )a(e t ree to four deep breat s to center yourself after spinning= Benefits6

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develop spatial awareness, proprioception, balance and coordination7 strengt en t e system t at controls t e five senses.

Helpful Hints for BrainDancing


Spend 5-#! minutes 3may be e&tended to 9!-F! minutes4 moving t roug t e patterns. Do s orter %rainDances wit ig er energy for a more aerobic e&ercise, increasing t e flow of blood and o&ygen to t e brain. Do all eig t parts, at least once a day, in t e developmental order from %reat to 0estibular. 30estibular may also be performed at t e beginning of t e %rainDance.4 Any movements t at fit wit in eac pattern are appropriate. As( students for ideas. Start t e day or class wit t e %rainDance. Do before tests and during long periods of sitting. Select several patterns t roug out t e day to do as 8uic( movement moments or transitions between sub*ects or rooms. %rainDance may be done standing, sitting on t e floor, sitting in a c air, and even lying down. It may be performed in one spot or traveling around t e room. It may be done mirroring or s adowing a partner or partners. Some variation is important. 2usic may be motivating. @rops suc as small scarves or stretc y bands add novelty as well as tactile and visual support. Allow students to improve at t eir own rate. Give feedbac( and cues to t e class as a w ole. W en appropriate, refer special needs students to a neurodevelopmental movement or vision t erapist.

A 'ew BrainDance &ariations 3adapted from Brain-Compatible Dance Education, Anne Green Gilbert. #!!F4
%ying, (itting, (tanding# Create a %rainDance se8uence t at is performed lying and.or sitting on t e floor or in a c air. 2ove t roug t e patterns lying on your stomac , bac(, and sides, on ands and (nees, and sitting. If you are familiar wit t e %artenieff 1undamentals, yoga positions, @ilates e&ercises, etc. incorporate t em into t e %rainDance. Also, incorporate your floor barre into t e %rainDance. ) e lying down variation is most successful w en done on a smoot , non-carpeted surface. Anot er variation is to perform t e first four patterns sitting on t e floor and t e last four standing. Traveling# @erform all t e patterns traveling t roug general space instead of standing in self space, or alternate self and general space. 2oving t e patterns t roug space will lead to many new ways of dancing, and new discoveries suc as t e difference between a body-side wal( and a cross-lateral wal(. )irroring and (hadowing# Gnce your students are familiar wit t e %rainDance, ave t em mirror or s adow eac ot er instead of copying you. 3Hou can call out t e patterns if necessary.4 $ave students wor( in pairs, trios, and 8uartets. C ange leaders ip wit eac pattern or repeat eac pattern wit a new leader. @lay wit relations ip, as(ing partners to stand near and far from eac ot er. )usic and Rhymes6 0ary t e music used as bac(ground for t e %rainDance. BrainDance Music CD was created especially for %rainDances and contains a variety of narrated and instrumental pieces as well as r ymes for young c ildren. -&periment wit lively music to energi'e t e students and slower music to calm t e students, or try t e %rainDance wit out music. I always use nursery r ymes and songs wit very young c ildren, but sometimes it is fun to use t em wit older students as well= -&plore and e&periment. *ith rops# @rops add a new dimension to t e basic %rainDance. Dancers mig t old two small scarves of different colors, one in eac and. ) e scarves will be a visual and tactile aid for distinguis ing t e different patterns. 1oam stic(s may also be used for tactile stimulation, and w en eld or manipulated wit different body parts, t ey elp students feel and visuali'e t e various patterns. Stretc y bands and body soc(s made from spande& material are ot er fun props wit w ic to e&periment. ) e pus and pull of t e stretc y material elps dancers connect body parts, alves, and 8uadrants. +ntegrating Dance Concepts# After you and your students feel comfortable doing t e basic %rainDance, it is beneficial to integrate a Space, )ime, 1orce or %ody concept into t e %rainDance. ) e %rainDance becomes more interesting and c allenging w en concepts are integrated. ) e novelty of t e concept brings attention to t e %rainDance. It is also a good way to embody t e concept. Integrating t e concepts elps t e students discover more movement possibilities wit in eac pattern, w ic t ey mig t c oose to recreate w en improvising or creating c oreograp y later in t e lesson. ) is conceptual e&ploration of t e %rainDance patterns deepens t e understanding of body mec anics. ) is elps students develop dance s(ills and tec ni8ue.

BrainDance Feedback a small sampling In my final project, I wanted to test the BrainDance. That is, to see its effect with my own eyes. Unfortunately time was short for such a project, but instead I mixed it with creative dance. In the end the project became an attempt to document if there is a development when children dance. I had 7 children at the age of 6, one hour 3 days a week for 5 weeks. I started every session with the BrainDance and then continued with creative dance. And the results have been very convincing. 4 of the children showed very clear progress in areas such as social behavior, concentration, physical abilities, self esteem, speech, etc. One of them has benefited so much you could call him a new child, so to speak. So, absolutely a success! -Sille Kamara, Denmark I am using the BrainDance with my Down syndrome adult dancers in my Tennessee Arts Commission residency. They love the movements and are beginning to remember and verbalize the work. -Ann Shea, PhD Just wanted to let you know that everyone at Westside Elementary in Roanoke (all 650+ children and 70+ faculty) has learned the BrainDance. My principal asked me to do an assembly for 3rd and 5th graders as a testing strategy for forward, going through each of the 8 patterns. We rocked instead of spinning for vestibular to prevent any serious injuries. When we finished the dance, the most amazing thing happened. I was able to talk to all of the children in a quiet voice about how movement can settle us down and focus our energy. The children recalled the 8 patterns as a the Standards of Learning. I was overwhelmed when the 150 or so very loud and energetic children were left to me alone to direct. Limbic override engaged. Many felt awkward and acted out, increasing my anxiety but I pushed summarizing activity and listened without speaking or interrupting until I finished. One teacher, who is one of the louder, more high stress faculty members in the classroom, approached me and told me she needed an hour a day of that for her own body. Another told me yesterday that she had Malik (a large, overweight behavior problem-sits-infront-of-the-principals-office-a-lot! boy) lead the BrainDance for her class she had trouble recalling the patterns and the children were wild because a snow storm was on the way. Anyway, Malik lead the class through each pattern, and they returned to their seats calmer. The teacher was quite impressed, especially by Malik who up to now was a thorn in her side but she was able to see him in a new light. -Wendi Wagner, Roanoke, Virginia I taught a Wolf Trap seminar for music people this summer and used BrainDance to start us off. One of the women was able to take this movement and use it in a workshop with a disabled woman in Canada. After the cross-lateral exercises the woman said I just realized that I havent been able to write a song since I lost the ability to cross my center line. That was day two of the workshop. By day 4, Jane had written 2 songs. -Jody Cassell, Washington, D.C. Im having a meeting with my principal tomorrow morning to talk about teaching the BrainDance to the whole staff. My kids from last year have told this years teachers that they NEED the BrainDance every day. The music teacher from last year told me that my class is the only class she had ever been able to teach certain skills to in all the years she has taught music. We both gave credit to the BrainDance. -Chris Henich, Oregon My son, who has learning difficulties, has been doing the brain dance daily and I have already noticed an improvement in his writing and focus. - Maeve Larkin, Australia The Brain Dance is an amazing sensory integration tool and it's become a standard part of my sensory work and presentations. Ida Zelaya, Baltimore Jenny Burnett and I have been meaning to write to you and tell you what an EXTRAORDINARY DIFFERENCE the BrainDance and the concepts have made in our teaching. We are seeing results in the first few weeks of school as opposed to the first few months. -Marlene Leber, OH We have done the BrainDance every day since the first day of school. When it is a holiday or weekend, my students share that they do it at home. One boy said he tried to do it in the car during a long family trip. My students have taught it to our PE teacher, parents, principal, vice principal and anyone who visits our classroom. I have noticed

that my own balance, which was greatly effected by a neurological virus several years ago, has much improved as well. -Karen Konrad, WA I have been using the BrainDance with my students since the beginning of school. It has revolutionized my life! I have seen so many benefits for myself. I have recommended it to numerous teachers. - Susan Edenfield