To prepare for challenging lifts, professor of dance and choreography Sally Wallace often has dancers work with Jeff Wallace (pictured), a movement coach. He begins a movement session by helping dancers confront perceptions of their bodies. “The intent is to explore what’s actually possible without being constrained by our concepts of what’s possible,” he explains.
This might involve encouraging dancers to explore ways of folding each other’s bodies, or to find ways to climb upon, compress, or stretch one another. Wallace explains to dancers that their bones are much stronger than their muscles. “Our bodies are designed to take weight through the legs and feet. So if you can create a situation where a partner’s weight is basically over your pelvis, then you are going to be able to support him or her,” he says.
Watch movement coach Jeff Wallace guide Purdue students Chelsey Garn, Nathan Claus, Rachel Rapkin, and Scott Blake in two different types of lifts: a mid-level pelvis drape and the koala lift.
In the image below, Rachel Rapkin (left), a third-year student in professional writing, and Chelsey Garn (right), a third-year student in psychology, demonstrate the koala lift. Two dancers stand face-to-face; one dancer wraps her legs around the other dancer’s hips, and her arms around her partner’s neck. In order to establish more stability and remain further connected, the dancers lean away from one another. Weight still comes down through the supporting person’s feet, and the shared center of gravity is maintained because the dancers’ torsos are leaning away from one another in what’s known as a counterbalance move.