New Year’s Resolutions are absolutely still a thing – wanting ‘this’ year to better than the last – hoping that this magical clean slate sets us up for victory. But as cliche as it seems to be, why not take full advantage of this mind set and actually take steps that will help you improve as a dancer?! You have to have a plan though. And Goals. Thought out goals, with a plan are the road map to set you up for success. Whether it is 1 focus a month or just overall goals for the year – Here is a whole year’s worth to incorporate into your own lists for 2019:
Listen to your body.
When you come back to class after break or vacation, be sure not to overdo it. “Sprains, strains, and fractures are your body's way of forcing you to rest. Never push through the sudden onset of pain, something that feels sharp or cracking, or pain that persists for more than a few days. Resolve to tell your teacher or coach when something hurts, instead of shrugging it off. That kind of communication doesn't mean you're whiny or weak. You're taking responsibility for your own career and training.”
Try a New Style of Dance/Go Watch!
Don't get stuck in a dance bubble! What's a dance genre you've always been curious about, but never had the guts to try? Give it a Go! How do you know you won’t like it or aren’t good at it if you never try it?! [It will most likely, at least, make you even more well rounded ] Or Make an active effort to see performances in unfamiliar dance styles or different than the traditional one you see. It’s vital to a dancers’ growth to know all the styles & ideas out there and to see what other dancers are doing! "Supporting other people helps to be a part of the bigger dance community."
“I Hate Left!”
It's easy to focus on the [right side] “good side” during practice over and over because it comes without thinking, it’s stronger, & you feel more confident… but that can lead to a very unbalanced dancer, overall weak. Practice your “bad side”. Make it a point to work that side 3X more than your “good side” this month. Stretch longer on that side. Do 3 extra Side Leaps that direction. And work that pirouette side harder during these 30-ish days. "It's important to work both sides equally, even if one feels better than the other," says choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler. "If your right leg is stronger, pretend you're a lefty—give that side the attention it deserves."
Food is Fuel.
I'm a H’angry dancer. When I am I can’t focus, I have brain fog & can’t remember my steps as easily, become upset with myself and others more easily, injure more, and don’t recover as quickly. Try to find foods this month that help you physically, emotionally, or do both! Research ways to get these foods in your body before dancing, transport them easily to practices, competitions, etc, and to have them available afterwards as a reward or pickmeup. Your entire body will thank you for it.
Just One More!
Solid double pirouettes are great and all, but this month, push for just one more. Push for just one more tour, one more fouetté, one more pirouette, one inch higher in your leaps. Don’t be content with your clean consistent technique! Imagine the feeling when you get that 3rd, 4th, or 5th[!!!] rotation! WOW! Don’t give up easily. Don’t be stagnant. Stale. Keep Pushing. You can do it! Fall. Get Up. Do it again. Keep Going!- Imagine that feeling at the end & the smile on your face.
Let It Go! Let It Go… Can’t Hold Me Back Anymore!
Fact: Lots of dancers are "type A." It’s just the truth. We're organized, ambitious, and goal-oriented. What we sometimes fail to keep separated though is healthy self-criticism & unhealthy perfectionism. The 1st, Helps you Grow. The 2nd, Beats you Down. Sometimes, You forget to enjoy your dancing. Sometimes you are nervous about letting go and having too much fun. In the famous words of Elsa- “Let IT Go!” Some of my best learning moments were when I just let loose and felt my dance heart soar as I moved to the music, not worrying too much about the perfect steps. My Artistry comes through… Sometimes once you’ve given into the music and movement… the steps just fall perfectly into place
Social Media is now a way of life. You probably see it as your connection to friends, family or something fun to do in spare time. If you are a dancer seeking to make a name for yourself in the dance world - did you know that it could also make or break your dance career too? Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter are great tools that can give you distinguish-ability, visibility and could even help you land a gig. BUT they are also a lot of work – some even argue a “full time job”. They can also have disadvantages in that too much screen time can cause unhealthy comparisons, judgement and worry. Used & monitored in the right way – it can be a fun tool to put yourself out there to the world.
Recharge & Mental Health
End of Summer is a good time to slow down your dancing a little and spend more time on your interests other than dance… [I know, like what?! Lol] During some of these quieter days, make sure to spend time with friends, family, those you love. Take some long walks, read a book, eat those sweets, go on outings with friends outside and soak up that vitamin D & fresh air that we don’t get as often working inside the studio.
Also, take some time to check on your mental health too. It is a priority, and that well-being should get a checkup every now and again too. Don’t be shy about talking about it and/or asking for help if needed. Many people struggle with mental health so you don't need to feel like you're alone. This will help you feel fully prepared (body AND mind) for the coming months.
Ballet is the very basis of which all dance is created from. It is the very foundation of all your technique. It deserves your respect and your love for it. For without it, you would not have anything else. Engage in class. Give all your effort. Actually do the Ballet homework. Ask Questions. Make it a point to grow in this area of your training. Love your Ballet Teacher. Whether or not you want to be a professional ballerina in life – Take it seriously. "Every dancer needs ballet, even if her specialty is salsa! The ballet vocabulary is the ABCs of dance. It makes you hyper-aware of all your muscles, so you feel every inch of your body working."
Work on Acting Skills
All Dance tells a story. Acting give you another tool to tell this story with your body even better. Every dance, even if it's plot-less, tells a story, and you need to be able to convey that story effectively. You could take a class, observe your favorite dancers as they take on new roles of different characters, try out auditions, or even make an effort to improve your own personalities & facials when performing. See what happens when you do! You become more connected with all the pieces you are asked to portray. It will only help your dance performances become stronger.
Expand Your Artistry.
“One of the major things that makes dance different from sports is the fact that artistry is required. On top of demonstrating speed, precision, balance, and endurance dancers are also required to show emotion and feeling. A dancer may have technique for days, but if they lack artistry, their performance can often feel dead and a little boring. A dancer who performs with artistry, on the other hand, can take the audience on a journey and allow them to experience the emotions they are portraying. This could be the year you get in touch with your inner artist and find ways to unlock the emotion within your dancing.”
Stick to a sleep schedule.
You won't be able to endure Nutcracker/Festival of Trees/Christmas Parade/Holiday Show season without adequate sleep. Sleep is critical to performing at your best. Sleep is important for your body to function and do all the wonderful, fun, brilliant things that you want it to do! Make sure to be on a schedule that gives you enough hours nightly - & stick to it…. Until Christmas break
Throughout the Year:
**Develop a Cross-Training Routine**
Cross Training is the action or practice of engaging in two or more sports or types of exercise in order to improve fitness or performance in one's main sport. Typically this focuses on your own strengths and weaknesses. This can mean the difference between a strong dancer and an injury-prone/burnt out one. Use this new year to find another form of exercise that will help progress your dancing overall. Pilates for Core. Yoga for flexibility. Swimming for endurance & breathing. Track/Running for stamina…. Just a couple of ideas. Whatever you decide, make sure that you fit your training to your body & your needs.
Cheers to a Happy, Healthy, Rocking New Dance Year!