BACK ON TRACK is an open research on the topic of how to re-enter movement practise while recovering from a knee injury, within the fields of contemporary dance & breaking. In addition Anna will also perform administrative work for her creative platform Petricore Movement
Between February 1st to 30th June Anna has been granted a research grant funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media ( BKM ) in the program NEUSTART KULTUR, aid program DIS-TANZEN of the Dachverband Tanz Deutschland.
Follow her journey through the next months in the blog below.
BACK ON TRACK
by Anna Holmström
26 June 2022 | Conclusion
5 months have now past and this research project is coming to an end.
My aim for this project was to come back to dance after a knee injury as well as diving deeper into movement research in the styles of contemporary and breaking. This project has given me a lot of new inspiration and input. It has made it possible for me to connect and exchange with dancers from the contemporary and urban dance scene in Berlin. I have found new confidence in learning and developing in the dancestyle breaking. It has given me hope that just because an injury happen, it doesn’t have to mean that your career is over.
Thanks to the Dis-Tank solo grant I have also had the economic possibility to spend this time that was most definitely needed to re-enter the field of dance and to be able to work full time as a dancer and choreographer. I have also booked my first full time job as a dancer since my injury happened in 2020, which starts next week! I’m really looking forward to see where my journey through dance takes me!
19 June 2022 | Acrobatics warm-up
A part of my aim for this research project has also been to learn more about breaking. In the video you see a compilation of some of the last months of top-rocks practise.
12 June 2022 | Top-Rocks
A part of my aim for this research project has also been to learn more about breaking. In the video you see a compilation of some of the last months of top-rocks practise.
5 June 2022 | Rehab excersices
This week I’m sharing some of the rehab exercises that I have been doing for the last couple of months. The exercises are aimed to build up strength in the legs for jumping, better control of landing, and take-off as well as controlling fast changing of weight from foot to foot.
It has been really interesting to learn more about jumping from a physiotherapists point of view and how specific exercises for landing and take off really helps to gain stability and height in the jumps. In ballet, gymnastics or contemporary we of course practise jumping as well, starting with smaller skips and transferring into bigger jumps and leaps. But it is often more in a flow of movement and also more difficult to be precise.
With the rehab exercises I’ve gone from not having jumped at all for more than 6 months to feeling comfortable and secure, in some ways also stronger than before the injury.
If you also wonder what kind of exercises you should be doing to gain strength and stability, contact a physiotherapist! Since every body is different and have different needs I don’t want to suggest specific exercises that might not be good or usable for someone else.
29 May 2022 | Bouldering
During the past years I fell in love with bouldering, ( in short climbing without a rope ). I find it a very good complement for strength training. I feel it helps to increase stamina and strength in thighs, butt, arms, hands, shoulders and backs. I see a clear positive diffference in regards of strength when I practise floor-work in dance, if I’m regularly going to boulder.
What also I find interesting is that if my body is reaching a point of being too tired, it doesn’t matter how hard I push. It’s like my muscles just shuts down and says no. It’s enough.
There are unlimited ways to clear a route. You can use explosive strength, technique, flexibility, imagination and much more. It feels in many ways a lot like freestyle dancing.
If you struggle finding the connection to your muscles around the shoulderblades-back area I suggest that you try bouldering out!
22 May 2022 | Extreme stretching
There are many different opinions, scientific facts and theories on of how one should stretch in a healthy way.
The older I get the more I have to warm-up before extreme stretching, for example oversplits. Some days my body just feel bad pain, and some days it feels like I can could stay forever in a middle split. I’ve come to learn exactly the difference between pain that will cause injury and pain that is “healthy” for the progress or maintenance of my flexibility.
In the end I personally believe what is most important is to listen to your body, and what works for you.
15 May 2022 | A place to breathe
The past months I’ve started to do yoga again. Yoga helps me to focus, calm my breathing, letting go of tensions and to get more strong and flexible.
I try to do a sun greeting ( see video for one version of a sun greeting ) approximately 1-3 times per week. Personally I really feel a difference both in my body and also mind when I make sure to do it more than twice per week. I can focus better and I’m not stressed out for small unimportant things as easily.
8 May 2022 | Nothing special
This week I’ve been dancing, doing rehab exercise and without getting any new, special or interesting thought or idea about movement.
It made me think about how many artists today are somehow becoming content creators, working to come up with fast works, videos or pictures to show something new. There is not always time to reflect, and just do or share something ordinary.
I don’t say that one way is better than the other. But just a gentle reminder that not everyday is a day when genius ideas are born. Sometimes it’s those days in between that are somewhat ordinary, where the body and brain have time to grow and deepend the knowledge already collected.
1 May 2022 | Battle
This weekend I was judging the Outbox Me Battle in Berlin. This is a fusion battle that focus on bringing different kinds of dance styles, from contemporary, hip-hop, waacking and krump. to name a few.
The battle also brings attention to the partnering aspect. How well the dancers can move together with another dancer.
It was great to watch so many different styles of dancers challenging themselves.
The video is from my judge demo improvisation, where I really tried to focus on taking my time and not stressing about what I should do next. To just be in the moment. It is not the strongest set I’ve ever danced, at some part I got a bit bored of how I was moving, but I do feel that I could keep my calm throughout the solo.
24 April 2022 | Taking classes
This week I’ve focused on taking classes in ballet and contemporary.
I’m feeling inspired by learning new ways of moving as well as revisiting techniques that I havn’t practised for a while.
After a longer period of weeks were I’ve been practising alot on my own I tend to get bored of my own movement, feeling like I always do the same things while improvising. Through taking classes I gather new inspiration from the teachers and the dancers in class.
I feel that I’m starting to rebuild the turnout strength in my legs for ballet, but also feeling that my legs are still very heavy to lift. For that there is still some way to go before coming back to proper strength.
In the contemporary classes I feel that I’m being able to move easier up and down from the floor, not being afraid to use my legs and daring to push off my legs more.
Photographer: Patrick Zylka
17 April 2022 | Tension
During the last month I’ve been able to start practising bigger jumps and leaps. ( YES!!! ) Even though the amount of jumps per practise is gradually increasing I have felt quite alot of tension and stiffness in my feet and ankles, especially on the leg that was injured.
Two things that has really helped is:
1.) Massage from my feet to my knees in the evening before going to bed.
2.) To remind myself while practising that it is not only my feet that should take all my weight. To really focus on activating my thighs, glutes and core to let the different muscle groups support each other. I think that my body is trying to unconsiously help to take load/weight of the knees by tensing and overworking my feet.Photographer: Anna Holmström
10 April 2022 | Warm up
Finished off with a little stretch and some floorwoork improv just to get used to put other body parts than feet ( for example hands, arms, upperback ) on the floor. It is nothing fancy. But the body warms up, and both body and brain starts to be creative!
3 April 2022 | Jumping
What I’ve learned is that pain can be both bad and good. Sometimes pain tells you that you overdid something, that you need rest, or strengthening and sometimes it is just the body reacting to a new challange in a way which is actually helping the healing process. Next week I’ll share some of my rehab excersices, that I’ve been working on to get back to this level. Just need to remember to film while practising.
28 March 2022 | Berlin Basement Jam
During this research project I also want to share some information about the Berlin dance scene and practise spots that I like to practise at. Especially after the past years of social distancing I think many people can feel quite disconnected to what is happening in the scene. This week I’ll share about one of the places I go to weekly: Berlin Basement Jam
For the past 2 months I’ve gone to practise at the Berlin basement jam on their wednesday sessions organised by Mince EV. It is a free event, an open space where dancers from various different styles ( hip-hop, house, breaking, locking, popping, contemporary and more ) come to practise and exchange. The level of dancers is beginners to professionals. Three dj’s are playing during the sessions and the overall feeling in the room is very open, varm hearted and inspiring.
I’d warmly recommend this place both if you are new in the game or and old cat! Wednesdays 19.30-22.00.
This week there is a battle from 19.00-22.00! Join in or just come to watch!
Adress: Oyoun, Lucy Lameck Straße 32, 12049 Berlin
21 March 2022 | Repetition
To avoid too much repetition of the same movements it helps for me to change place where I practise or to practise and exchange with different people or to different music. But I think it is also important to find that balance between repetition and new input. For keeping my flexibility and strength there are certain excercises that I have to do every week. Sometimes it is hard to motivate myself to do them, but in the end it takes more energy to think about how irritating these excercises are than the actual work. A little bit like stressing about cleaning the house, but instead of doing it, just getting more stressed by sitting around thinking about it.
Movement should inspire, be fun. But not all training or excersices are fun. But they are neccesary to be able to do certain moves later!
13 March 2022 | Today VS Yesterday
This week it’s the first time in one and a half years that I am able to run ( read jog ) for 5 kilometers without walking in between AND without pain!I remember my first try in September 2021 where I jogged for 1 minute, and walked 1 minute. It felt like my legs didn’t really know how to cooperate, I felt more like a newborn horse trying to take it’s first steps.
For me it is important to sometimes look back to see where I come from. Looking back I see the progress I’ve made over the last year of rehab. If I look back further I see how much I still have to go to even come back into what was “normal” capacity for me before the injury.
The “normal” or “best” capacity changes everyday. Sometimes it’s worse than yesterday, sometimes it’s better. In the picture to the right I’m doing a pose I have done for more than 20 years. But with age, it gets more and more difficult , some days my back tells me straight NO. Today was a day when it worked. Not a good day, not a bad day. Just another day. Some days I get angry and just wanna scream “Come on! You could do that 10 years ago.. do it again now!”.
The older I get the more I understand how and when it is possible to push my body. Our bodies really knows best. They tell us to rest when we are tired, to eat when we are hungry, and to not do things that are painful. We just have to listen.
6 March 2022 | Floorwork
I have always loved floorwork. With the kneeinjury it’s been a struggle to gain confidence and feeling free while dancing and especially improvising on the floor. The back of my mind wants to control every little detail, which in some way is good. It means that I won’t overstep and do something that my body isn’t ready for. But at some point I also have to trust the healing process and know that I am ready to move forward towards full mobility.
The last weeks I’ve been working on finding new ways of sliding and rotations on the floor, which also has alot to do with daring to try. It also means falling ( alot !! )before understanding the technicalities of a certain movement. The video clip shows a short sequence from one of the first practises back on the floor.
28 Feb 2022 | Liquid freezes
This week I have played around with freezes, ( a freeze is basically to “hit”/”perform” a freezing moment in a certain position. )
My task was to play with different freezes as a starting position but to then further explore what possibilities there are to still keep moving.
In the position in the clip to the left the position itself demands alot of strenght to be able to just stay in the position. To be able to move my legs I realised there are also subtle shiftes in weight that happens in the lower part of the spine, giving more freedom the hips and legs to move.
The next step would be to let go of the hand that is just there for support (and in my case helps me to not fall haard! ) and then also to be able to lift the head from the floor. Let’s see if that will develop in the next months!
20 Feb 2022 | Taking my time
This week my focus has been to move slow but with precision in my improvisation.
It’s been quite interesting to explore, especially since I do love to move big and dance with alot of explosive movements.
Working on the opposite has been challengeing but productive. When slowing down in my body suddenly my brain started to take a bigger space, questioning what I’m doing while dancing, if it’s good enough or if it’s boring.
In my sessions I let myself move slowly, just focusing on the task, accepting that my brain was asking questions but not giving the overanalysing thoughts more space than that they were simply there.
After some time I found myself in a state of flow where the brain stopped asking and accepted the tempo. Which gave me opportunity to focus on precision in each movement and also musicality.
Slowly I could start playing with dynamics in tempo but still keeping this calm feeling even while moving faster. Looking forward to try this out further, and interested to see how it can affect my emotions and way of dancing in a battle for example, where the pressure of “doing something good” sometimes takes overhand and makes me to just throw out movements without making sense.
The picture was taken last week in photosession with Patrick Zylka!
12 Feb 2022 | Perspective
This week has been filled with many different ways of moving. Dancepractise, acrobatics practise, bouldering and a photoshoot.
I’m slowly being able to move more which feels great. In this phase of recovery I find it difficult to balance between being too careful vs. doing to much, especially when surrounded by dancers and acrobats that are all going full out and doing crazy moves!
What helps me when I put pressure on myself to “perform or push a bit extra” in practise is to take a step back, do a slow stretch for a couple of minutes and think about why. For who is my practise, is it for other people or is it for myself? What do I need to do today to be able to come back to performing on stage towards the summer? Perspective. It doesn’t always work, but it is a tool that helps for me.
6 Feb 2022 | The never ending ( digital ) paperworks
During this week I have begun the project BACK ON TRACK. A project where I will dig deeper into movement research for the first time without having the pressure of producing a performance as a result.
I’ve been thinking of how I want to present this project and I think a bloglike way is quite good and an easy way to follow my process. It’s the first time writing in a bloglike format. Let’s see how it works out!
This week has been more administrative than dancing. For freelancers so much time goes to administrative duties that often are hidden from the common eye. Paperworks, answering e-mails, setting up workshops, producing performances, checking up, proofreading, writing applications and informative texts.
Last year I suffered a cartilage injury on my right knee, from which I am now on the way to recover from. This week I’ve had a calmer dance week, a sort of recovery phase as part of my rehab. This means I have had a more soft approach in my practise, to let my body recover from the past 4 weeks of quite intense strengthening training.
As dancers I think we can learn alot from professional athletes that have scheduled different phases for build up, strenghtening, technique to perform their best on competitions. The issue for dancers is that many of us have to perform on top all year around and it is hard to find time for recovery.
Gefördert durch die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien im Programm NEUSTART KULTUR, Hilfsprogramm DIS-TANZEN des Dachverband Tanz Deutschland.