Dart for Visitors Starting With Fetal

As I’ve mentioned before, there are almost always visitors on the course – from all over America and beyond.  In the spring we had two visitors, Camillo and Rosa, who have visited several times before, and they asked Joan if she would show some of the Dart Procedures. In a couple of posts, I will go through each part and what I got from them in class.  Again, it was too much for just one post!  If you want to see all of them now, Luc and Becky made a wonderful video for people who want to see the Dart Procedures in their entirety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnYUvIRZe_

I should also mention that in my 3.5 years at the Murrays’ course, this is the first time where everyday for a week we’ve gone through the Dart Procedures.  And I can only remember less than a handful of times that we’ve done parts of the Dart work in place of chair work.  All to say that Joan never makes a big deal out of developmental movement or anything else but integrates it into her understanding and thus into her work with students at the chair and table.

Joan and Alex talk about this being the part that Dart didn’t write about (in The Postural Aspects of Malocclusion), but what he said when they met him and showed him how they had worked out the procedures was the most important part.   What I will show here is the original version on the floor of what we do in the chair in the daily procedures when we look down, let the hips go back and let the head roll forward.  Joan talks about it being where we get length.

An interesting aspect for me as a dancer is that the feet automatically want to sickle when babies (and adults sometimes, as I do in the video!) are in fetal, which in dance so often people narrowly think of as something you should not do.  That’s what I love about the developmental movement – it shows you that there is a place for every type of movement we have the capacity to do – looking up, allowing the hips to go forward, curving the spine forward, etc.  The only problem is when people get stuck using only one pattern (i.e. sickling their feet when they’re trying to walk, etc.).  The best part is that you can feel that it feels “right,” as if you’ve done it before.

It always seems to me (and I probably learned this from Luc Vanier!) that fetal is the position where everything is allowed to bend.  In harp, it is when my fingers fall and bend into the palm after plucking the string, and in dance when I plié, for example.  Again, the issue becomes when we don’t allow for things to change in relation to what we’re doing – when someone pliés or goes into fetal, but doesn’t allow the back to fully go back or when someone plucks the string and keeps the engagement needed for the pluck even after it’s over.

Here are some beautiful pictures of fetal, in a baby and from a yoga anatomy book:

It is interesting to note that newborns often have their hands near their face, which seems to be something people often do when they want comfort in rest.  Joan uses this in the daily procedures (which I hope to post about soon) sometimes, and it gives tactile feedback.  Here are a few photos of my nephew and niece as newborns with his hands near their faces:


I also had a fellow trainee take some video of me going into fetal.  The curve goes all the way from the head to the tail, which is why when going into fetal in the chair, Joan says to “think of the hips going back.”  As you can see, it’s probably the most protective place we can be where we’re the smallest ball we can be, ankles and arms crossed.  Also, in this position, it always seems to be that the thighs automatically spiral out and the knees go “forward and away” when the feet sickle and the legs make room for the head/shoulders.  I hesitate to make/post videos because I don’t want people to think that there’s some ideal way, but showing is so much clearer than explaining in words.  Everyone moves through developmental movement slightly differently; they are there to explore fundamental coordinated movement and give length/width rather than to “get right.” Yada, yada, yada… If you’ve never encountered the Procedures, they might seem odd.  That, in addition to the older age of some students, is why Joan takes people into them in the chair.  And yes, my hair is super long right now. 🙂

There are also videos advertised as magic ways to calm a baby crying that are basically putting a baby into fetal:

Joan has a story about a violist who was stuck in a permanent slump, and instead of trying to pull him up out of it, she took him further into fetal, and then when he looked up, he came out of the permanent primary a little bit more because she had allowed him to go into the fetal curve in a coordinated way, from head to tail.  Different from the “fixing it” approach by trying to pull someone up, as sometimes happens!

That’s it for fetal!


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