Today in the studio I was reflecting on how dancer’s gradually create their own warm ups, their own series of technique exercise, their own ways to care for their body, and at the end of the day, their own style of dancing. Really, it’s all an amalgamation of things collected from various teachers and various influences.
Every morning, shortly after waking up, I do a series of core exercises that I’ve collected from various dance teachers, physical therapist, even pilates videos. Basically the first thing I do in the morning is related to keeping my core muscles strong and especially strengthening the muscles that are inherently weak in my body.
Once in the studio, I do a half hour or so warm up that is basically the first half hour of a Simonson modern dance class (shout out to Laurie DeVito!). Then I move on to my flamenco technique, first hands and arms, then a little footwork warm up, then marking, then some hardcore feet, and then I work on whatever dances or steps I happen to be working on. It’s amazing how quickly the 2 to 2.5 hours in the studio fly by.
Sometimes, I don’t really want to be in the studio. Yes, I love to dance. But getting started in the morning isn’t always easy. It’s much easier to take dance class than to rehearse on one’s own—consciously thinking about improving your dancing, analyzing every movement, deciding what looks good on your body and what doesn’t. It’s extremely personal, and requires much more concentration—there isn’t a whole class of people whose wave you can ride. It’s easy to say, “I don’t feel like working on that today, I’ll work on X which I’m already good at.” But I can’t let myself do that.
Once I work through that—force myself to do my repetitious technique exercises—then I feel warmed up and alive, ready to truly dance. Best yet, after I’ve worked on the steps I need to work on, I let myself just play around with a step, changing its musicality slightly or playing around with different gestures to use with the same step. That’s when things really get fun for me. But I can’t get to that point without all the exercises before hand. It’s only through the repetitious stuff that one’s dancing really improves—that’s when you make the steps your’s, explore the depths of the movements, and dance more fully.
I ended up deciding that I only wanted to take one dance class this month. At first I thought that wouldn’t be enough, that I would be wasting my precious time here if I only took one class. But really, what I don’t need are classes; I do need the uber challenge of Andres Marin’s class, I need the culture, but mostly I really need to be in the studio on my own, exploring the depths of the steps and movements I already know. This is the first time in my life I’ve been able to focus just on my dancing, and already in one week I feel improvement (maybe I’m just getting back in to shape from a couple weeks off, but I do note a difference already in my dancing since Monday). And that feels great. :) ...then it's a whole other ball game to transfer that to a performance--performing takes a completely different strength.