In my classes, I use a lot of imagery to help my students engage their creative bodies and minds. Imagery provides the opportunity to sense, feel, and sometimes even "see" the intended goal.
In my own dance practice, I also use imagery to "see" what I'm drawing in space, or to add texture to my movement qualities. Imagery allows me to drop into the psychology of the work - connecting my thinking body and my dancing mind.
One of the images that I've been using recently is that of a helium balloon with a weighted anchor point. Head = balloon. Spine = string. Pelvis = weighted anchor. The head floats on top of the spine, like the balloon. The string/spine allows the balloon/head to anchor, but the string/spine is soft, flexible, and mobile. The weight anchor/ tail-sacrum-pelvis grounds the string and the spine, allowing them to float and move, (and celebrate and dance) without leaving the earth. The counter-energy of the helium balloon and the weighted anchor keep the string straight and supported from the top and bottom.
Often, dancers are encouraged to "lift out of the pelvis" or "lift up" - or "project out" into the space or "project up". These cues may come from a place of encouraging the dancer not to look down or send their weight and energy down, but may also have the undesired effect of the dancer placing all of her attention/ emphasis in one direction - now up, instead of down. Dance, like life, requires a balance and an equal pull from opposing forces. I've been experimenting with imagery that encourages a direction of both up and down.
What works for you? What images have you tried?