A gift for you: Appreciate and celebrate, without hesitation

RWB: Zhen Guo Chen as The Mouse King & RWB School Student in Nutcracker. photo: David Cooper

[Guest post by Philly D]

Dance is a form of movement that I am passionate about, so I am so honoured to be a part of this blog and contribute in any small way. In my short time with you I want to simply remind you how valuable you are and offer you a few keys to unlocking that value on your own.  Every day as young people you are faced with many challenges, and that’s why I’m so happy a blog like this exists.  It’s a place that can help you face some of those challenges in a supported way.

When you were a little kid, we often got the message, “you are special”.  However, we’re made to feel like we’re only SPECIAL “IF”.  If we have the right body type, and fit the right stereotype for dance.  Outside of dance, just trying to make it through school we’re always made to feel like we’re only special “IF”.  If you wear the right clothes, IF you hang out with the right people, IF your family has so much money, IF you go to the ‘right’ school, IF you score this many points in the game for us, IF you bring home the RIGHT grades.  From all areas of life, the message we seem to get is that we’re special alight, but there is a big IF attached.

It’s not true.

The truth is, that you are special BECAUSE, first and foremost, simply because of who you are.  The sooner you realize that, the sooner you see it in the people you dance with, go to school with.  When you do realize it, you can reduce your stress and anxiety and DANCE from a more passionate place.

Easy to say, harder to do.

So let me offer you three KEYS to Unlocking The Value you hold within side yourself.

Appreciation

  • It always begins with a little appreciation. When you can actually just stop, see the value in the things that you DO have. It’s to easy to get drifted away in what you don’t have and what you want.  Unlocking your value begins with a little appreciation.

Celebration

  • This is can be broken down like this, celebrating WHO YOU ARE leads to who you can become.  The problem is that hiding all the parts we don’t like about ourselves is to easy.  We can hide behind our screen names and websites, we can hide behind our clothing, our books, and we can hide behind our circumstance in life.  When you hide who you are, you forget about who you can be.  By this I mean you limit your growth.  Celebrating who you are awakens new growth every day!

No Hesitation

  • You can appreciate, and celebrate, but when it comes time for action, doing what’s right, you can not hesitate.  This key to unlocking your value is all about ACTION.  But don’t overwhelm yourself thinking it always has to be some large action.  Real growth and change happens in the day in day out small action steps.  Don’t hesitate to be a part of your life and see that you are special because of who you are…NOT IF.

Guest contributor Philly D is a passionate human being. He loves to share Mindfulness, Hip Hop and Yoga together in one unified force of uplifting fun. Phil tours his [dharma] Hip Hop Yoga program around the globe. At home, he is a business owner (Moksha Yoga Winnipeg and Minneapolis)  and, more than this, he is a husband and father!

 

Photo courtesy of Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

Fa la la la laaaa, la la Alignment!

(2011) Bruce Monk

Alignment is the foundation of  [all] good dance technique and fosters a healthy spine, for life! Because it is so fundamental to the healthy dancer (and individual) it is beneficial to begin preschool classes with a posture exercise and focus warmups for higher levels on posture and alignment as well.   In programs working with individuals in wheelchairs it is also tremendously beneficial to focus on the alignment of the spine as poor posture in seated positions can hinder the use of the arms and flexibility of the upper torso, as well as promote excessive tension.

In our November Newsletter Monique Lavoie discussed the stereotypical posture of a ballet dancer, demonstrating that  poor alignment can hinder our strength and overall balance.     Whether teaching the once, twice, three, or six times a week dance student I feel it is our responsibility to build not only train healthy posture, but to foster students understanding and appreciation of the importance of posture and alignment in all aspects of movement.   Pilates is an excellent tool for retraining our neuromuscular pathways for overall musculoskeletal health.    Monique’s article is a brief discussion, but an important one – click the following link to check out her article.

LINK:  Focus on Pilates (from Nov. 2011 Newsletter)

TEACHING TIP: Use songs (for preschoolers)  and visuals to foster both the understanding and the physical implementation of posture.   In my opinion, when we ‘see’ alignment and begin to apply it, the muscles begin to hold the correct alignment of the bones.  From here the students begin a more organic process of using the muscles to stabilize posture.

 

Using foam shapes (I use dots or stars) play connect the dots with your students (of all ages)!    With the help of an assistant or a student the conversation with the class goes something like this…

 

Where does the teacher look first when checking your posture?    “my feet!”   (place a dot – on the side of a child’s ankle)

Next?  “my knees!”   (place a dot on the side of the demonstrators knee)

And next?  ” my hips!”  (you get the picture)

And next?   ” my ribs!”  (Preschoolers have a hard time with that one sometimes)

Then?  ” my shoulders!”     And then?  ” my head!”

 

This worked wonders with my preschoolers – now all I have to say is “Have you connected your dots?  Are they in a line?” And they will begin to physically self correct their alignment.

 

Older students and even adult students can benefit from this visual as well, incorporating how the use of turnout can impact alignment (demonstrating the need to re-align when turning out) and the adjustments that need to be made when turning out.

Author: Jacqui Davidson

Photo by Bruce Monk.

 

 

Prevention and ‘cure’ for mental burnout…

Mental fatigue (aka. burnout, being in a funk, feeling drained/mentally exhausted) affects all ages.  Multitasking is commonplace in our daily lives, creating situations in which we rarely give our full attention to one activity/individual, and even less often focus on our own needs.   Over time mental fatigue can affect the immune system, our ability to problem solve and concentrate,  our mood and coordination, and ultimately, our quality of life.    Mental fatigue can be a symptom of a larger issue (stress) and can cause issues in the long-term if ignored.

As lover of lists I thought I’d post a short list of straightforward ideas for recharging your batteries, boosting your energy and creativity!

  • Teachers – Take time to BE the student.
    • Find a class that you can take for yourself, try Pilates, Yoga, Zumba, Jazz, Tap, Ballet – anything that  feeds your need to move.  I suggest purchasing a to class card for yoga or pilates so you can attend as often as you like (need).
  • Students –  Give yourself a break!
    • Take a break from the homework and studying, go for a walk outside, or crank up some tunes (with or without earbuds) and have a dance party in your room – by yourself or with some friends.  Take an afternoon off and go to a movie with a friend or family member.
  • Parents STOP. You also deserve a break.
    • Find yourself spending a lot of time waiting for your dancer to finish their classes for the day (after your own busy workday)?   Claim that waiting time for yourself and go for a walk, or bring something to do that is just for you – maybe knitting/crocheting, reading, a movie, listen to some music.  Or better yet, talk with other parents from your students’ class – take a coffee break together!

Claim your Peace this holiday season: When you wakeup in the morning take 10-15 minutes for yourself before you do anything else.  Sit in the silence of your home.  No technology, just silence. Do whatever you need in that moment:  Sit quietly, watch the sunrise, meditate, breathe, do yoga, etc.  And when you are ready to begin the day, make a mental list of what your priorities are for the day (as opposed to a list of everything that must be done).    This can be a great way to begin the day with a sense of calm, cultivating focus inward and on the people/things that are important to you.

 

New inspirations can also be a great way to recharge. Since beginning AD4L I have discovered some great blogs and articles  that have sparked my creativity as we move into the winter months.    Here are a few…

 

A Dancers Brain (great dance quotes)

Educating Dancers

A great article on the longevity of Sylvie Guillem.

And for some non-dance inspirations on living simply – Zen Habits.

And a little video inspiration…

How do YOU recharge? Drop us a line in the comment section and share your tips for recharging for yourself and your students/children.

November Newsletter

The focus for this months newsletter is Balance and Alignment.

Our contributors have been busy – this month you will find articles on balancing meals for best performance, attaining physical alignment via the STOTT Pilates method, and using the mental skill of Imagery to balance the cognitive and physical aspects of dance.   We are also very excited about an interview with Rachael McLaren of The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre!

And to help keep the ideas flowing we have included handy teaching tips and ideas for incorporating this month’s topics into your dancers’ training and daily routine.

Here is a taste of what you’ll find.

 

 

 

Continue reading “November Newsletter”

A ghoulish ballet for a ghoulish kind of day…

Happy Hallowe’en AD4L readers.   Below is an excerpt from the film version of Mark Godden’s Dracula:  Pages from a Virgin’s Diary, filmed and directed by Guy Maddin.   The dancers are from Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, this excerpt features the recently retired Tara Birtwhistle as Lucy, and Johnny Cheng as Dracula himself.  Ballet and ghoulishness — perfect!

Have you subscribed?   You never know what interesting tricks and treats you might be missing!  Subscribe Here.

 

Feet, feet, feet, feet….what do you do with a pair of feet?

This weeks blog post is from the physiotherapy team with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, focusing on the importance of taking care of an essential tool for dance – our feet!    Dancers of all ages and teachers should consider the following when searching for just the right fit.  The search may be lengthy, but the health of your feet is worth it in the end.

 

 

Foot care:

As a dancer your feet are your most important “tool”.  Proper foot care is vital to avoid injuries and painful feet so that you have an enjoyable dance experience.  And while there is no way to completely avoid irritation or injury, there are a number of things that you can do to minimize the risk.

1)      Dance shoes-

  • Make sure your shoes fit properly, no matter what type they are. Remember too, that your feet continue to grow even when the rest of our bodies stop growing so the size of shoes you wear at age 16 may not fit at age 20. Tip: If the material at the back of your pointe shoe extends more than an inch beyond the end of the shank of your shoe, your pointe shoe is probably too small.
  • Make sure the shoe is still in good condition and not worn out, torn or over stretched.
  • Let your shoes dry out well after use rather than just stuffing them in your dance bag until you use them again.  This helps cut down on odor and reduces bacterial and fungal growth.

2)     Skin-

  • Look for areas of redness on your feet that may indicate areas of excessive pressure or friction that could later lead to blisters or painful joints.  This may indicate an improperly fitting shoe, a worn out shoe or poor technique.
  • Do not break open a closed blister.  Protect it with a doughnut pad and tape.  If the blister does break, use an antiseptic to clean it and cover with a bandaide until healed.
  • Wash and dry your feet well after you dance to protect your skin from infection.  Your feet perspire a great deal in a dance shoe and this warm moist environment is a good one for bacteria and fungi to grow.
  • Keep your toenails trimmed short (close to the quick in the centre) and straight across to the nail edges. Nails cut short at the edges can lead to ingrown toenails. Maintain a consistent thickness to your toenails by using an emery board or nail file.

3)     Technique and alignment-

  • Good technique and body alignment helps to reduce the stress on your feet.  Do not force your turnout or over grip with your toes.  This places a lot of shear stress on your joints and on your skin and can lead to painful joints, blisters and ankle pain.
  • While stretching and flexibility are important in dance, strengthening your foot and ankle muscles is important too.  These muscles help to absorb the forces and loads you are putting through your feet when you dance.

4)     Outside of the studio-

  • Wear good shoes or runners when not in the studio.  A mechanic always puts his tools away in his secure tool box.  Your feet, like the mechanics tools, need to be protected and supported well when you are not dancing.  Avoid long walks or prolonged standing in non supportive shoes like flip-flops, sandals, or slippers.

Following these few suggestions may help keep your feet happy and healthy through your dance season.  Should a problem arise, however, you should promptly seek the advice of your healthcare professional to get it sorted it out early.  In this way, you will avoid a more serious problem that will keep you out of dancing.

Authors:  Kevin Dyck/Janine Didyk/Sam Steinfeld

Continue reading “Feet, feet, feet, feet….what do you do with a pair of feet?”