dance connection

 

dance friends

I had a conversation recently about a bunch of scientific studies saying, basically, “people need people”.  Doesn’t seem like a revolutionary or new concept as people have always lived in families and groups…we know we need people…but I guess we are also in need of a reminder. People are now living alone more, in apartments and in cities instead of villages. We don’t talk to our neighbours as much anymore. (Well, some neighbours are truly scary…stay away! Haa!) You do not have to go running out to meet everyone on your street but you DO need connection.

Connection is actually what it is all about.

Connection is vital and essential to leading a happy and healthy life. Lack of connection can have actual physical health repercussions.

So I was wondering about connection in the dance world. When it comes to “community”, how are the dancers doing?

It can be hard to make dance friends and stay friends when you are also each other’s competition. You are all going after the same part in the show or place in the company. Can you be friends with someone and be happy for them when they get the role and you don’t? Are you comparing yourself to them in the mirror? Overall, I think the need for connection outweighs the pangs of jealousy or any bad feelings. Who else but another dancer will understand what you are going through? These are the people who get you. They get it. They know how your body is hurting and they understand your frustration when you are working out some hard to do moves. You need your group of people who can relate to you. Who can commiserate and celebrate with you.

And who else knows the best tips for blisters or where to find the cheapest leg warmers?

That is the connection that people need and that the scientists are now talking about. You need to feel like you belong. That you are understood. You have to have, even one person, who just gets you.

The grown-ups I teach now feel like a nice community. Some of them come in with other people they already know. Some have met in class and have become friends outside of class. They keep up with each other on social media and it is amazing to see them all encouraging each other in all that they do. When you enter a dance class you know you already have at least one thing in common with the other participants. You all love dancing. After that, when the dancers start talking about jobs, parenthood, hobbies or interests…you can see the connections being made.

Some of my closest friends have been in the dance world. (Dancers are super fun! Haa!) And I look forward to meeting many more people and making more connections in my new dance community.

I hope you all find some great dancified connection along your way. It will be good for your health!!!!

 

 

 

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dance diversity

 

 

My daughter really likes a certain kind of music. She thinks it is better than ANY other kind of music. So much so, that she doesn’t even want to listen to any of the other inferior music styles out there. At all. What’s a Mom to do? And I am a Mom who loves many, MANY different styles of music.

I launched into a passionate rant about being well rounded and appreciating diversity in music. I raged about all the great musicians and artists out there. I think I did a pretty amazing job. Truly. I sold it. It was beautiful and powerful. I’m sure she will remember my speech for the rest of her life. (ya, right. Haa!)

Anyway, being well rounded, I think, is extremely important in life. You want to be able to talk to other people about many different things and to do many different things. It is great to be diverse when it comes to people, books, hobbies, music and whatever else. But for a dancer, being well rounded is actually vital. Not just a nice thing to be, but an absolute necessity.

It is proven week after week on that show on TV…you know, the So You Think You Can show. You have to be able to do many different kinds of dance to win that show. All the dancers must do different styles of Hip-Hop, Jazz, Contemporary, Theatre, Ballroom, maybe even some Ballet.  You need to have the ability to interpret various musical styles. Perform as different characters, follow distinct counting, rhythms and just be overall diversified. Variety is the spice of life they say. Variety is the dancer’s most valued asset.

You will not need as much diversity in the world of ballet…but even then, you will be called upon to do some different styles, eg. contemporary and classical, also some character and folk dancing. Broadway dancers are required to be majorly well rounded. They will be called upon to do period dances like a Charleston or The Jive. They need Jazz and theatre styles, like Fosse for example. Each show may have many different styles in it and you may have to do Hip-Hop, Ballet or some Salsa. It also helps if you have tricks in your arsenal. Some acro, pas de deux, Tap perhaps? Back up dancers for pop music world tours need to be well rounded as well. I could go on all day about all the types of dancing that you should at least try once to get the feel for it and have it on hand when necessary.

There is a reason why fitness people do cross training…dance cross training can be amazing for the dancer’s body too. Set out to be a well rounded dancer and you will reap all kinds of rewards, I promise you.

If you always do ballet, try some jazz sometime. Always shaking your booty? Try holding it still at the barre! Do some belly dancing or take a swing class…

You never know what you will find or experience when you try something new and “cross train”. At some audition in the future, when they ask, “does anyone here know how to lindy hop?” you will thank me when you are able to raise your hand!

So, I told my daughter that if she really loves music then she should try to respect, appreciate and at least sample ALL the different styles out there.  (I said try…even I don’t appreciate some of it. Haa!)

Being well rounded in music and in dance really does make things more interesting.

Being well rounded in dance can give you so many more options for work.

Being well rounded in life is a great idea for ALL people and hopefully opens our eyes to new ideas, experiences and ways.

Being well rounded helps us appreciate different things and different people.

Never a bad thing.

dancified homework

 

For those of you who want to get dancified at home, here it is:

dancified basic warm-up

(I know….yes, I have heard of YouTube…but I’m writing it out for you anyway…like in the olden days)

 

Start with your head and neck isolations…

Down and up – turn side to side – tilt – half circles – full circles

Shoulders – up and down – rolls – shake – arm circles

Ribcage – side/side and front/back – maybe circles

Side bends. Arm over head, bend side/side

(add in some body rolls here if you are into hip-hop)

Now some hip action!

Side/side and circles

Touch your toes, nose to knees, right then left and middle.

How about some plies now?

Good low plies in 2nd are what I like to do…

Upper body ready…time for full lunges front or side (back leg straight, front bent) and flexibility stretching like sitting on the floor in 2nd. (legs out to the sides)

Against the wall stretches (legs in 2nd, butt against the wall, let gravity do the work) or same position face the wall…kitchen counter barre stretches are the best!

Sit in butterfly position (sitting knees bent, bottoms of feet together)

Stretch out your legs in front of you, reach for your toes, put your head down on your knees.

And then you can move on to whatever specific stuff you want to work on…harder stretches, ab work, arches of the feet, get turning, jumping, booty shaking…get dancified!

There you go. Basic dancified warm-up. Take out version.

Happy stretching!

My Way…(but your way is good too)

 

What is the goal?

Of your dance class I mean.

Fitness? Fun? Health? Joy? Some need a target time, like a show, exam or competition. Some just enjoy it for what it is and see each class as the goal itself. For some, a single step becomes a goal, like mastering the pirouette or learning a fouette turn. Some students want to work to perfect the same routine week after week and others like the challenge of new choreography with each class. All grown-ups, all children, all students have their own learning style and their own motivation and goals for going to a dance class. For me, as a student, each class was a goal. To do all the combinations correctly and well. To pick up the choreography fast and in the end to dance my best, use the most energy and feel the high. My goal was never specifically to win the competition or pass the exam. Cleaning and perfecting the steps for a show was never as fun for me as just going all out with a routine in class, the thrill of starting new choreography or dancing to a song I loved. The passing of exams and winning competitions come along with it though. If you like what you are doing, you will practice and get better and better without ever considering it work. Once the music came on, I never thought about whether my toes were pointed or my leg was in proper alignment. When the music started, my brain turned off, my body (or maybe my spirit?) took over, and whatever happened, happened.

Like the different methods of the dance students, teachers also have their own ways.

I had a conversation with a dancified student the other day about the different styles of dance teachers. Mainly, why some give lots of corrections and some give none at all. I said that I like to give tips and advice on how to make it easier to do a certain step, but I don’t feel like most adult recreational dancers want to work on technique the same way a younger dancer would. Or a professional dancer needs to. There is no show or competition to train for. The grown-ups are not preparing for auditions. I don’t need the entire class to have the same arms or angle of the head. A correction for the dancer’s safety or to help them make the move feel better…yes.  Corrections just for presentation purposes…no. I think it is up to each teacher to read the needs and wants of the class, or even each participant, and know when to give the correction and when to just let the dancers be and allow them to enjoy their dancing. You need to figure out who wants to be corrected and who wants the freedom to just do what is comfortable for their body. By all means, when you have a teenage competitive team whip them into shape with tons of corrections and enforce perfect unison of all positions. With the grown-ups…aside from a few exceptions (like the student I was talking to)…time to give them the say over their own dance class experience. They’ve earned it.

SPRING!

Girl-in-summer-white-clothes-flying-in-a-jump-over-flowering-dandelion-field-963880_l sunflowers(1)Growing-Different-Types-of-Flowers-Annuals-Perennials-Flowers-Growing-from-Bulbs3

Is it here yet? Is it ever going to get warm out? Anyone feeling Springy?

I love the Spring season for all of its promise. For the shedding of the layers of sweaters and jackets. For the fact that it will turn into Summer…which is my favorite of the seasons. I love Spring for bringing back the grass and flowers and for making the nights brighter. I don’t just love the season. I also love the word. In dance, we use the word spring a lot. When teaching dance terminology, often we say things like, “spring into the air from both feet…” or “spring into the air from the ball of one foot…”

Springing into the air sounds fun and cool doesn’t it?

I’m not sure if we all spring enough outside of the dance studio so I am suggesting we all spring more this Spring. Spring into some gardening. Spring into your work. Spring into walking or family fun. Spring into your grocery shopping! This Spring we should really try to put an actual spring into our actual step. “Spring into the air from the balls of both feet!” Springing or jumping, in dance, means you take a leap. You push off and up and without hesitation you spring. Do something without hesitation this season.

It is great to be steady and balanced in life and in dance. Control and strength are necessities for all dance styles. But when it comes time to spring…it becomes about energy and power and trying to fly.

Inside the studio and out, this Spring let’s all try to fly!