Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hooray for Bollywood!

I thought I knew a little bit about dance... academically, if not in practice.... I have dabbled in a variety of forms and thought I knew what was out there... I even thought I may have a feel for the next big 'thing'.... and then I found IT.

Now this 'it' is not something new or hidden.... rather it is more of an under-your-nose, practically in-your-face sort of thing.  It is none other than the contagiously jubilant form of dance featured in the ballyhooed Bollywood movie musicals.

For those who don't know (and/or have been hibernating under a rock) the Hindi film industry, dubbed Bollywood as a play on words using Mumbai's previous nomenclature of Bombay.  The sheer volume of feature films churned out in India is ten times that of its Los Angeles counterpart.

But quantity is not all that marks this popular established art form.  While many consider it a new fad, it actually underwent its golden age during the period of the 1940's-60's!  In its current incarnation it is marked by jubilant gorgeous song and dance numbers performed by incredible talent such as international superstar Aishwarya Rai.... of whom I am an unabashed fan!

Recently, due to the acclaimed movie Slumdog Millionaire as well as Andrew Lloyd Webber's Bombay Dreams and various dance shows, the dance itself has exploded in popularity. Bollywood dancing  combines modern Indian dance with Bhangra, Classical Indian, Arabic and Indian Folk, performed to the latest Bollywood soundtracks.  

As I have an inkling that this is not my last blog on the subject, seeing as how I have become entranced, I will leave off for today, with these words by Indian playwright and poet Rabindranath Tagore, "To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Go Bare when you run... least when it comes to your feet..

The latest trend in fitness footwear is, in truth, the very oldest.... and most accessible.... your own two feet.  For most of history, humans have run in either lightweight shoes or bare feet.
“People have been running barefoot for millions of years, and it has only been since 1972 that people have been wearing shoes with thick, synthetic heels” says Daniel Lieberman, a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University. 
Lieberman and colleagues have determined that the way barefoot runners typically land is more comfortable and may help avoid repetitive impact stress injuries as compared to their running shoe shod counterparts.
Studies are now bearing out that modern running shoes may in fact increase the risk of injury and that runners wearing low quality running shoes have fewer injuries than those with more expensive ones.
According to  the British Journal of Sports Medicine, athletic footwear has been associated with frequent injury thought to result from repetitive impact. Researchers found that expensive athletic shoes with extensive cushioning result in 123% greater injury frequency than the lower ones do.

As more research suggests that naked feet are preferable to high-tech running shoes, minimalist footwear like Nike Free and FiveFingers is becoming more popular. Nike Free footwear is designed to strengthen the foot muscles by ensuring less constriction. Vibram has developed a line of ‘barefoot performance footwear’ known simply as FiveFingers®.  
Testimonial according to Squidoo -- After 11 days of Testing FiveFingers, Peter Sagal a 3:20 marathoner and the host of NPR's Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me wrote:
Back in the FiveFingers I zip around the track as if I've been freed from eight-ounce ankle weights. I run pain-free and fast. My friend running behind me (ha!) says that my gait has changed. Indeed, I feel as if I'm running more on the outside of my foot, rolling the point of impact forward to the toes, where I can actively push off.

I myself have endured shinsplints since my cheerleading days in school.  When I took up running I always figured high-end reputably-named footwear would help prevent further injury.  After doing the research for this blog post not only am I going to check into getting some FiveFingers of my own, but I am going to re-evaluate my foot fitness... if nothing else I think this should warrant a pedicure, don't you?