By OBT Historian Linda Besant
Are Locusts and Downward Facing Dogs a regular part of your life? If so, then you won’t want to miss seeing Left Unsaid in OBT’s “Song and Dance” program that opens April 21st. Choreographer Nicolo Fonte is a devoted practitioner of Iyengar yoga, and his ballet is rich with artistically extended poses.
We asked Julie Gudmestad, one of Portland’s premier yoga instructors, to take a look at Left Unsaid and weigh in on this seamless melding of Eastern and Western physicality. Julie has movement credentials that just won’t quit—she graduated as a physical therapist in 1977, and she’s been certified as an Iyengar instructor since 1988; but we didn’t know until we asked for her help that she also studied classical ballet as a girl, and was a serious student of modern dance at Reed College.
Julie knew of worldwide movements of rhythmic yoga and yoga choreography, but said right away that Left Unsaid is different. Those ways of moving are built exclusively from poses, or asanas. “In formal practice,” Julie said, “it’s pretty prescribed how you go into and out of each pose, especially in Iyengar yoga. What’s so refreshing about Left Unsaid are the creative and organic ways that Nicolo Fonte coils into and on through each pose. In yoga practice, we form vinyasas, or flowing combinations of asanas. One definition of the Sanskrit word vinyasa is wind, and you can see the wind in this piece. People who practice these poses will be delighted at the way this choreography flows.”
Julie also complimented OBT’s dancers. “It is a real treat," she said, “to see people in such fabulous shape, who have both the flexibility and the strength to do the extreme forms of these poses." In fact, many of OBT's dancers regularly practice yoga.
We picked a part of Left Unsaid where the yoga is particularly clear, and Julie pointed out places where the choreography lingers on poses long enough to see them clearly, though they are often varied or ornamented slightly. You will see:
Warrior I Virabhadrasana I
Bridge Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Staff Pose (Plank) Dandasana
Standing Big Toe Pose Uhita Hasta Padangustasana
Can you spot these asanas as they flow by?
Julie Gudmestad practices physical therapy and teaches yoga with her team of nine instructors at Gudmestad Yoga Studio. You can also see her work in the Yoga Journal online, where she wrote the "Anatomy of a Yogi" column for seven years.
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