Organic Pumps: First Dance Class in High Heels

Published on
November 24, 2014

I took Cecilia Marta’s “Latin Fusion” advanced beginner class at Broadway Dance Center tonight. I feel so liberated! Cecilia is from Panama and in her Latin Fusion class the focus is her Latin Roots with a world attitude. Her original style emphasizes the importance of fluidity through instinctual, organic and sensual movements. She has also developed a warm-up that awakens the senses through awareness of the breath, body alignment and isolations. I have been taking class from Cecilia for two years and have also performed with her dance company (Cecilia Marta Dance Company) so I am no stranger to her style, but I have never taken her class in my 5-inch stiletto boots before. This was my first time. I absolutely love it and it's kind of awkward to say that it feels very natural to me to dance in high heels even though this is only my third time wearing them. Perhaps in my past life I was some kind of showgirl. My legs are a little tired, but I don’t feel any pain from the heels. It’s mostly my feet that are sore especially my bunions and the sole under the ball of my feet. When dancing the combination, I felt the sensation of hovering as if suspended over a raised platform, and in my effort to not fall off, I had to engage even more so my inner thighs and core to stay balanced. I actually felt stronger in my legs but at the same time, my toe articulation was stifled by being jammed up in a closed-toed and triangular shaped tip shoe. Being barefoot means you have the ability to spread your toes and grip the floor which allows the feet more proficiency. When in a closed toed shoe, you don’t have that ability. I believe the next dance class I take will need to be with an opened toed shoe; then I will be invincible.

Video below: Here's a clip of combination!

Cecilia Marta always emphasizes technique in her style in that the main attention is on the core and the back as the initiators of movement and power that inspire the rest of the body to react naturally with fluidity yet strength. When asking her about the use of high heels in her class she said that she doesn't feel the necessity for high heels in her class and feels that high heels could, in fact, be compromising to the movement, more so for the less advanced dancers who have a lesser understanding of technique. She added that the best approach to simplifying is not to encourage wearing high heels, which I find very intriguing because the high heels then, are not an apparatus to her dance style but instead, it’s the connection within one’s own physical center and core that must be relied upon to execute the movement properly. This suggests that high heels could then be just an affectation.

In fact, in Cecilia’s class, she has coined the term “organic pumps” which means dancing in releve (standing up on toes) as if you are wearing stilettos but as a replacement. Cecilia said to me concerning the organic pumps, “It’s a discovery. I love the use of the floor and what has happened with my feet and the fluidity that I have acquired with them. I’m developing a different strength in how I am using the floor and it’s not that I’m against the use of high heels. It’s simply the difference between relying on a platform to sustain that feeling of being elevated versus the sensation and feeling of the feet coming at your legs to the physical body, which I feel has made me much stronger and fluid.” (You can hear more of Cecilia’s comments below and in her interview under the "A Walk In Yours" page).

Video below: Cecilia talks about her style & technique of dance

I felt so welcomed to Cecilia’s language of dance and movement when I took my first class with her. There was no distinction from male and female expressions. Both the men and women in class did the sensual phrases, the movements in organic pumps and the isolation sequences flat footed that are grounded and weighted. In her class, you as the individual artist get to choose what feels natural to you, yet sticking to the integrity of the movement phrase and intention. There is a clear set developmental structure based in her style but also a sense of freedom that isn’t penumbral to the training process. I felt right at home and safe to be me. This is the kind of atmosphere I feel is imperative to create, especially for the youth, so you can develop confidence in expressing your individuality without social hinderance and be comfortable with your natural self as opposed to changing you natural inclinations because of being told what is the way one should move. Cecilia said in her interview that there is a bright place in all of us and when we allow that light to shine through that's when we are in our most honest place. In our society, I feel that women are allowed to be bright and exuberant and are pretty much accepted in both tough and soft roles but for some reason, men tend to hold back from allowing themselves to be soft, light and bright as if it is a symbol of weakness or comprimised their "masculinity". I say to the hell with that notion. Let your light shine! Growing up, I yearned for a place like this where I wouldn't be judged for the kind of person I was or wanted to be. It should be no coincidence then that I have fell in love with Cecilia and her style of movement.  

I love the part of class where we huddle up in a group in the center of the floor and follow Cecilia’s isolations to the music and express a full spectrum of body and rhythmic patterns as a community. Men and women are not separated and neither are the movement patterns distinguished by gender. Everyone taps into their sensually rhythmical being a la Cecilia Marta; the Gata Negra herself. She is part of the full-time faculty at Broadway Dance Center so if you ever get a chance to, I highly recommend you take class from this true dance master and movement genius. Get in touch with the sensual, soulful and bright creature inside you, whatever you define that person as, that is inside us all.

Picture with students of Cecilia after class: Catherine (left) & Eriko (right).