From early on in my childhood, my identity as a person was bound to one area of my life: dancing. Movement was always so essential to myself and overall well - being. I always separated myself from my peers at school: “I don’t do sports, I dance”. I never really considered the athletics of dance nor was able to imagine a potential parallel to the sports world until my college experience. During my first few weeks as a college freshman, I discovered and promptly fell in love with the Japanese fighting sport of judo. Initially, I felt as if I were occupying two utterly different worlds – there seemed to be little similarities between the refined precision of ballet and the instinctual unpredictability of judo. However, as I gained a deeper understanding of my body movement on an anatomic, spacial and artistic level in my ballet classes, I had a simultaneous progression in judo. It seemed that quite suddenly that these two halves of myself were not separate from one another, but a merging of body information that led to subsequent awareness of movement that I did not think was possible.
From that instance of realization, I have been further researching and analyzing the parallels of the movement vocabulary that is present in ballet and judo. Through the lens of Irmgard Bartenieff’s six patterns of body connectivity there becomes a distinct framework to relate the two practices. Rarely do athletics and the arts occupy the same realm, yet there are such relevance to the individual in terms of physical health, mental well – being and overall satisfaction in life. Practitioners of either judo or ballet will be presented with information that could potentially aid their growth in performance and awareness. Interdisciplinary work offers new perspective and presentation of information and can act as a catalyst for learning, inspiration and innovation.
The primary source for my research is drawn upon my personal experience as a college dance major and as a college judo player. To supplement my firsthand experience, I will draw upon written sources that have done previous research on Bartenieff’s six patterns of connectivity, the anatomical workings of the body when performing ballet and judo, and the consequential benefits of participation in moving to the body and mind. To continue my understanding of the paralleling workings of the body during ballet and judo, I have learned the traditional Nage No Kata, a codified judo throwing form. Additionally, I will be composing my own kata or form, using the general structure, level changes and relationships established in Nage No Kata. However, my form, Ballet No Kata, will consist of movement that are of the traditional ballet dance form.
Throughout this process, I will uncover further how the arts and athletics can inform one another. Personally, I will continue my exploration of how participation in one area can positively enhance the performance in the other. Yet, I will be able to share this experience with others on a broader scale to potentially provide a new tool or insight on their own practice. The research will also advocate for the necessity of daily movement by laying out the benefits one can glean from a set movement practice. The performance aspect of my research will also provide visual exposure to those who never witnessed ballet or judo, or never considered the relationship between sports and the performing arts.
The final result will be a paper of thirty to fifty pages that thoroughly examines the parallel relationship between ballet and judo in terms of the physicality and mentality and the consequential benefits that participation in such practices provides. To visually illustrate the parallels, there will be the composition and performance of my original form, Ballet No Kata alongside of the traditional codified Nage No Kata.