Breathing Techniques

Breathing Techniques

Breathing techniques have become a significant focus in our project, because they allow us to address questions regarding:

  • physical extremes for performers – including the dancer and musicians;
  • correlations between respiration and heart rate variability, providing complex rhythms in the ECG, and therefore the click tracks for musicians; and
  • relationships between breathing and weight qualities, that in turn inform temporal-spatial aspects of the choreography.

At this stage, our breath work is exploratory, and includes the following activities:

  • Collective breathing structures: Progressive breathing structures performed as a group, with a range of styles in terms of tempo, tidal volume, location in the body, nose versus mouth inhalations and exhalations, and more. For example, a structure might include slow deep breathing, then fast inhales with slow exhales, a gradual build to panting, a breath hold for as long as possible, and then time to recover. The group proceeds collectively through each style, with no guide or external clock. Each structure includes extremes of highs and lows, so that individuals can challenge their capacity for exertion and relaxation respectfully, and differently with each iteration of the exercise.
  • Mix of meditation and somatic techniques, involving breathing into different body parts, using touch to guide breath in one’s own and other’s bodies, imagery and metaphor, partner breathing, etc.
  • Feldenkrais workshop with Stacy Pelinka, in which she guided us in an exercise titled: “Differentiation of Parts and Functions in Breathing”::
  • Weight studies: Investigation of relationship between breath, weight qualities, and use of time-space, as a way to both build and decouple habits, and further, to achieve greater versatility in performers. This work builds on Vera J. Blaine’s weight studies techniques:
  • Free diving techniques: Guided, progressive O2 and CO2 tables for sustained breath holding. The purpose of this training in the context of our project is to achieve extremes in heart rate and heart rate variability, thus impacting the state of each performer, as well as the temporal range in the click tracks for the musicians. Informed by websites such as