Photo by Gwyneth Muller

Ever been injured and had to figure out how to get back into shape? Are you one of those dancers who teachers ignore? Maybe you are a student who isn’t getting enough classes in a week to push your dancing to a professional level. Whatever your circumstances may be, often times you are left to fend for yourself. Here are some things that might help when this happens.

Supplement your dancng. Pilates, yoga, cardio, weight training… these are ALL beneficial to dancers. Get on some sort of program or routine to help your body get stronger. Pilates helps strengthen your muscles without adding bulk and lengthens them simultaneously. I noticed fast and drastic improvement when I started practicing pilates. Also, in a future post, I will be giving ballet specific exercises with pictures that can really benefit your dancing. As far as cardio goes, I prefer the elliptical. I generally try to do 30-45 minutes whenever I can. When I was preparing to dance Swan Lake, I would get on the elliptical and go through the ballet doing the arms. As silly as it sounds (and as weird as I might have looked) my stamina shot through the roof. When I got onstage, I was barely tired. Many other dancers like swimming and sometimes running as other cardio options. The most important thing however is to monitor yourself. If you are coming back from an injury, DO NOT do too much too fast. You could end up making yourself worse! Just listen to your body and start slowly.

A second problem a dancer might be having is feeling like you are not seen. If it seems like the teacher is ignoring you, the first step is to get brave and talk to them. Listen to what they have to say. Maybe they will mention one thing that could make all the difference. If you don’t get anything out of talking to them, learn to be your own teacher. Each class, work on something specific- “Today I will focus on my alignment” or “I am going to work on my musicality”. Take everyone else’s correction as your own. Be aware of what your muscles are doing, and if something isn’t working, really think about what you may be doing wrong. Don’t just give up. If you feel you are not getting enough classes, one thing that is never wrong is to ask your school if you may also take a LOWER level class. Never ask to take higher- that can be misinterpreted and might end up coming back to bite you. By taking a lower level, you can REALLY focus on alignment, placement, correct technique, and thus improve drastically. If your school does not allow you to take extra classes, consider looking for an additional school in your city. This might be a bit controversial, but it is YOUR career. This happened to me. Before I went to the School of American Ballet, I was only getting 5 classes a week, so I went to another school in my area for an extra 3. My dancing got so much better, and thus prepared me for SAB. I know some schools frown upon this idea, but if they are only offering 4 classes a week, that is not enough to get you to a professional level. To be safe, FIRST, ask if you can take lower levels. Only then seek classes elsewhere.

I will be posting more detailed exercises and tips for improvement soon. But for now, just think about this- if you do what you’ve always done, you will get what you’ve always gotten. So push yourself! :-)