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Aug 31, 2021

This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra speaks with Clare Guss-West — a published author, choreographer, teacher, Committee Chair at the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science, and Co-Founder and Director of the Dance & Creative Wellness Foundation. Clare’s resume is extensive and varied, but most of her work seeks to apply scientific research into professional, vocational, and inclusive dance practice.

Supported by her Eastern movement practice, she provides mindful attention and focused strategies that harness the mind, energy, and effort to empower dancers. These practices allow dancers to optimize their own physical and mental performance. Clare travels the world, sharing her ideas with some of the world’s top ballet companies and performers. On the podcast, Clare dives into her ideas and shares some practical ways that we all can apply mindful techniques to make our daily performance stronger — both on and off the stage.


Moving Quotes:

"I'm going to look at aspects of the movement that would be ideal — that I'd have a great verticality, that I'd fly in my split jump. We need to focus in on those things and not focus on trying to adjust bits of our bodies. And that's when we get measurable differences."

"Affirmations are based on the same principle [as setting external focus]. You have an idea that's bigger than you, and you can imagine it. Then it becomes a roadmap for you or for your life where you can relax a little bit. That roadmap guides and facilitates the realization of our goal."

"If you come to mind training very late, it's like learning a new language. We have to start using less effort. It's less effort, actually. But more focus."

"I was convinced that working with the power of the mind would have enormous benefits for dancers today."

"The more complex the skill you're attempting, the more effect you're going to have from introducing specific attentional strategies to what you do."

"Dance as a lifelong tool for wellbeing is an area of huge growth at the moment. Particularly because there are so many chronic diseases and problems that conventional medicine doesn't know how to address."

"When we guide our attention in a particular way, the benefits of doing that are physical and mental."

"If you are very lucky and have a great intuitive teacher, you have someone who talks about breath, energy, and focus. But for most of us, that's not taught at all."


Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:

3:25: Clare explains the beginnings of her interest in applying Eastern mindfulness principles to dance and movement. 

8:47: Clare discusses the modern science that reinforces these millennia-old Eastern principles.

12:33: Guss-West describes the measurable differences that are observed in athletes and performers who apply these mind practices to their art.

19:49: Guss-West discusses visualization and how visualization fits into the Eastern idea of setting an external focus.

27:30: Clare explains the origins of her book and what she’s seeking to accomplish in sharing her learnings and practices with others.

33:34: Guss-West describes her dance therapy work and explains precisely how dance and movement provide incredible health benefits.

40:44: Clare discusses her work across multiple organizations, all serving as platforms to share knowledge around mindfulness and movement.


Bullet List of Resources – 

Clare Guss-West

Dance & Creative Wellness Foundation