Make A Mid-Year Resolution Today!

We all make new year’s resolutions, but we don’t all stick with them throughout the year. I know I haven’t been. I will admit there was a brief time period where I stopped working out and eating right. Then one day I woke up and remembered that I had made a promise to myself and since then I have been back on track! How about you? Have you been sticking to your new year’s resolution? Did you already complete your resolution and don’t know what to do now? It’s ok, we can get back on track together and work on our mid-year resolution!

What can we as dancers choose for our mid-year resolution? How about you try a new dance style? Maybe there was some style you always wanted to try but never had the courage to do it? Well, I am challenging you to go out and try it! Trying won’t hurt anybody. You can only benefit from broadening your horizons. It will give you an extra challenge. Which can lead to another resolution. Go out and challenge yourself! Maybe you have a clean double pirouette, well why not go for that triple? You never know what you are able to achieve until you try it! As dancers we need to constantly challenge ourselves, it is the only way we can improve.

Remember it is never too late to start something new. Maybe you did stop but get back into it! We are doing this together! Most importantly relax after all summer is just around the corner! If you can’t make a mid-year resolution then don’t worry, 2017 will be here before you know it! For the rest of you….I’ll be checking in on you!

Tips to Reduce Stress During Dance Recital Season

Well, it’s that time of the year again! Can you guess what I’m talking about? I’ll give you a hint, I’m suffering from PRS. You’ve never heard of PRS?! Well,  PRS stands for pre-recital syndrome. Now, do you know what time of the year it is? Yep, you guessed it, it’s recital time! Within the next few months dance studios everywhere are going to be having their annual recital. It is so exciting, but at the same time, so stressful! So here are a few tips to help you reduce the stress and hopefully you won’t suffer from PRS!

Make sure to lay out everything you may need the day before if not earlier. Don’t wait until the last minute to get all your stuff together. This is how people forget items they may need. Remember to pack your costumes, shoes, tights, hair accessories, makeup, jewelry, water, and anything else you may need. Ask your teacher a week or so before to double check and make sure you have everything. Your teacher might think of something you need that you would not have thought of yourself.

Try to pack extra of everything if you can. Pack those extra bobby pins, hair ties, extra water. Extra everything is the way to go! I even bring my old worn out dance shoes, just in case. You never know when they might come in handy. After all, better to be safe than sorry.

If you can, bring a mini first aid kit. You never know when something might happen. It can be small but bring something so you have it if you need it. Make sure to eat food before you perform, you don’t want to pass out. However, don’t eat less than 2 hours before you go on stage you don’t want to feel too full while dancing. And never, never eat in costume. Also, never drink anything other than water in costume.

While backstage it is only natural for you to start getting anxious and feeling nervous. Try to relax. Don’t worry about messing up. One of the best pieces of advice one of my teachers told me is that; something is always going to go wrong. You can practice all you want and you can do everything right a million times before you perform but when it comes time to actually performing, something will always go wrong, so just enjoy the moment. After all, isn’t the saying dance like nobody’s watching? That is what you have to do. Take deep breaths, inhale, exhale, breathe and everything will be alright.

It’s recital season! Ready or not here it comes, so be ready and don’t have PRS!

Happy Recital Season!!!

The Deadly Sins…of Dance

     Most people know the 7 deadly sins; pride, envy, wrath, gluttony, lust, greed, and sloth. These 7 deadly sins, or habits, are said to prevent people from progressing in their life. Well, what I bet you don’t realize is that there are deadly sins in dance too. Much like the 7 deadly sins of everyday life, these deadly sins of dance are habits that most people probably do every time they dance. These habits do not help you progress as a dancer. Depending on how often and how bad you do them they can actually cause you to regress as a dancer. Meet the 5 deadly sins of dance…

     The first one is having sickled feet. What does this mean? Well, this is probably one of the ugliest things a dancer could possibly do. When somebody says that your feet are sickled, it means that your feet are turned in instead of turning them out. When you have both feet sickled your toes would be pointing toward each other. This is not what we want. We want our feet to turn out, so they would be pointing away from each other. This can be related to the sin sloth. Sloth means you are being lazy, and usually when dancers sickle their feet, it usually means they are being lazy. 

The girl in color is demonstrating a sickled foot, and the girls in black and white are demonstrating a turned out foot.

   

The next sin of dance is misalignment. Having misalignment can lead to a variety of problems. If you want to have longevity as a dancer you need to make sure you have proper alignment. You might have noticed that people stand with their butt sticking out, for various reasons. Being a dancer, this is not good for us. Pride is one of the 7 deadly sins, however when you dance you want to dance with pride. If you have misalignment it won’t make you look tall and proud. When dancers stand with their butt sticking out this does damage to their spine. It crunches the lower bones in the spine. This also leads to other techniques being off. When dances don’t have the proper alignment they don’t engage their core, they’re letting their ribs and shoulders go which leads to their balance being off. You also want to make sure your hips are always in line with one another. When I teach I tell my students to think of their hips as headlights on a car. You want them always the same level and you always want them facing the front. Have proper alignment, and have pride when you dance. 

This is an example of misalignment.

     Wrath means to be angry, and is one of the 7 deadly sins. Usually people who are angry tend to carry a lot of tension with them. Tension happens to be one of the 5 deadly dance sins. Carrying too much tension is never a good thing. However, in dance it is even worse. Dancers need to look graceful and elegant, even when they might not be feeling that way. If you are too stiff you won’t be able to jump as high or stay on your toes as long. Tension is never a good thing, so just breath, relax, and have fun. Along, with tension is the next deadly sin; clenching your toes. When people are first starting out they see pointed toes and think they know exactly what to do. So what do they do? They clench their toes. This is not, I repeat this is NOT pointing your toes. Pointing your toes comes from the ankles and not from your toes. Clenching your toes just creates more tension throughout your body because you are unable to do everything your body wants you to do.

     And the last deadly sin of dance is hyperextension. Hyperextension is when a joint can move more than it should be able to. Usually in dancers this happens with the knees. Although this is not something that can be controlled, as a dancer you should be aware of your body. This means knowing when you are hyperextending your knees. You should be able to tell the difference and know when to not do that to yourself. Do not lock your knees, this can cause serious damage to you one day. This is just something you need to be aware of. 

This image shows a hyperextended knee on the left and a non hyperextended knee on the right.

     These 5 sins are all habits that can be worked on and broken if we choose. Breaking these habits will help to make us become better dancers.

The Many Benefits of Dancing

     These days there are so many TV shows related to the dancing world. So You Think You Can Dance, Dance Moms, and Bunheads, it is causing more and more people to want to start dancing. People realize how dance is very beneficial physically, however what a lot of people don’t realize is that dance has other benefits beside just better physical health.

     Studies have shown that dance helps to boost the memory. This can help to prevent from getting dementia when people become older. Dancing helps to increase the Hippocampus part of the brain. As people age the Hippocampus naturally starts to get smaller but dance helps to keep this part of the brain active.

    Dance is also known to reduce stress and depression. When people dance a chemical called Dopamine is released inside of the brain. This chemical is what causes people to feel happy, and is known as a “natural high”. So if you are feeling stressed or upset about something, get up, put some music on and start dancing! You are sure to feel much better after a dancing session. I know I always do!

This image shows where the Hippocampus is located in the brain

     Having heart problems? There was a study done in Italy that said dancing helps more people with heart diseases than biking or walking does. Their breathing and heart rate significantly improved compared to other people’s. Dance lessons might just be what the doctor ordered!

     To me dance is so much more than a activity to keep me physically fit. It helps to keep me happy and helps me to keep my mind off of things. There is a quote that says “you have a diary, I have a dance floor”. That is what dance is to me, it is my therapy session, my diary. It is a way for me to release all negative feelings. I hope dance can be the way it is for me, for all of you!

Should Dancers Have a Plan B?

    With less than a week left before I graduate college and go off into the real world, the amount of people that ask me what I am going to do next is unbelievable. I have to admit, I am often finding myself asking the same question to my peers. When I tell them I am a dancer more often than not, I get the follow up question; “Well what are you going to do when that doesn’t work out?”, “What’s your plan B?”, “What else are you going to do?” This makes a person wonder, should I have a plan B? What if I don’t? Am I going to fail in life? Do dancers need to have a plan B? Should they? Should I be scarred that I don’t?

     These are questions that dancers hear way too often. People who don’t dance typically think that dancing can’t be a full time job. They think dancing can’t be a career. Dancers often get discouraged and are forced to go into their plan B because nobody supports them and believes in them. For me, dancing has always been apart of me. It has always been who I am. It defines me, without it I have no idea who I would be. Yes, I do have a backup if for whatever reason my dancing career fails. However, I never plan on actually using it. For me there is no second option, it is only there as a comfort. My plan B also happens to be something I love to do and maybe will do on the side one day. It can also be incorporated into the dancing world. If you truly love something and believe in yourself and what you are doing, then go and make it happen! Don’t allow people to tell you to have a plan B. Yes, dancing is a hard career. Yes, you never will know exactly when that next paycheck is coming. If you love what you are doing, won’t it be worth it? Yes, it will be!

     Dancers should be able to follow their dreams without having to worry about failing. It is okay to have another part time job so that there is a steady income. You want to be able to support yourself and pay your bills. Just don’t give up on that dream. Will you become that principal dancer in the major dance company? Maybe not, but that shouldn’t discourage you. If anything let it motivate you, you have something to reach for. As 16 year old, South African dancer, Leroy Mokgatle says, “Don’t ever make a plan B for your life. If you do, it’s as if you’re saying ‘it’s okay if this doesn’t work out’. For me there is no plan B”.