Congratulations dancers, teachers/coaches and dance parents on another year done and dusted! Competitions, performances and just week to week classes – we are all SO ready for this break!
Heading back into the studio after 6 weeks off can be a little daunting though, especially if you have spent the whole time in holiday mode. Muscles feel squishy, or brains are a little foggy, and many of us take a few weeks before we are back in the swing of things.
So how can we make sure we walk into the studio ready to smash 2018 right from day 1? Check out the tips below which will keep you in shape… without interrupting your holiday and chill out time!
Come on guys. Just do it. You already know what that first week back is like, and you don’t want a week of barely being able to walk! People always seem to think stretching will be time consuming but its truly not! Set aside just 10 min per day just to maintain where you currently are. Even if you don’t increase flexibility over the break, you have worked too hard all year to lose it now! So its just about keeping what you have! If you spent all year planting flowers and getting a garden to grow, you wouldn’t just let it die over the holidays would you? Not when all you need to do is take a few minutes to water it each day. Your body is the same!
A tip? When watching a TV show just stretch in the ad breaks! Stretch when you are on your phone, or when you are relaxing by the pool, or when winding down before bed.
The key? Even if it’s not for long, you do need to do it every day. Other wise there is no point. It’s like only flossing the night before you go to the dentist: Trust me if you leave it til the night before, the professionals can always tell.
This is easier than it sounds. You don’t need to be going to a gym or going crazy, just stay moving wherever you can. Play backyard sports with friends and family, go bushwalking, bike riding, swimming. Why not organise a fun day with your friends and have relay races or team fitness games in your local park? This is not working out instead of having fun. It’s just keeping active while you’re having fun! There are plenty of ways to stay moving without it being a chore. In Australia we have daylight savings now which is awesome for evening walks. Again you don’t need to push yourself or try to become more fit; this is about maintaining all the fitness you have gained over the year in class. After an awesome year of getting stronger and stronger, you don’t want it all to be a waste just because you spent the holidays being a couch potato! In that first lesson back, coaches always know who stayed active during the break. And if it wasn’t you, you will be able to tell the difference too – and not in a good way!
Wherever/whenever you can! Go to holiday clinics/classes/open gym. If your coach offers holiday privates, try to book in. You may even be able to share with a friends to keep the cost down. Some gym’s have dance style group fitness classes like ‘Body Jam’ that are fun for something different. If you aren’t able to take any classes in the holidays? Get your friends together for a dance day! Stretch and practice skills together, you can even choreograph your own routines together! Even if you can’t get together with your friends, get your earphones in and dance around your room – even that counts! If it is keeping your body dancing and keeping you in the dance frame of mind (thinking about technique or at least creating/remembering combos), it will make you that little bit less rusty when you come back, and that’s definitely a good thing!
Goal-setting is SO valuable! The most simple way to do it is to write a list. Keep it short and very clear. Exactly what do you want to achieve? These goals are 100% up to you, no one else needs to know and they don’t need to be the same as anyone else’s. Split your list into short and long term. What do you want to achieve by the end of Term 1? And what do you want to achieve by the end of the year?
Examples of good goals:
- Get my back hand spring (any skills like a tumbling skill or a specific leap or pirouette is a very clear goal)
- Improve my balance in my pirouettes (not just your balance – be as specific as you can. On what skill? Why?)
- Improve my fitness and stamina (pick one area to work on like: fitness, flexibility, strength, balance, turnout etc.)
- Be more outspoken in class (Or maybe yours is to not talk so much in class! Goals don’t all have to be physical, they can be about you as a person. Maybe you want to make an effort to talk to more people in your class, include more people not just your best friends, be a better role model to the younger students, or to be more organised so you don’t always forget your tap shoes this year. All of these things are awesome goals too!)
Put this list in your diary/planner or on the wall of your room, somewhere you can see it often so you will keep the goals in mind and hold yourself accountable. Starting your year with very clear intentions will make a world of difference to your focus. The next step is to make an action plan for each goal. A goal is great but what are you going to do to achieve it?? If you are stuck, chat wih your coach/teacher about your goal and see what their advice is. They can help you with tips for during class and at home.
(Shameless plug: To step your goal-setting game up a notch, you can purchase a custom Athlete Progress Journal, please contact me through Letters from A Dance Coach on facebook to order)
Holiday – in moderation!
Holidays are a time when the rules can relax a little. Bed time is not so strict, healthy eating is definitely not so strict (especially around christmas time!) and we get to enjoy plenty of laziness and treating ourselves without training, homework or school to worry about. ENJOY all the things that come with holidays, you have earnt it! But the magic word: MODERATION!!
OF COURSE on christmas day you can eat lollies and a big feast and gingerbread and ice cream – it’s christmas! But maybe we don’t eat that much every day. Maybe little treats here and there are still fun. Of course you have earned your chill out time to relax! But maybe sitting down on your ipad every day is not the best way to look after your awesome healthy body. No school to wake up early for? Of course you can stay up later and watch movies with your friends, but maybe not every night or you will end up too tired and your body clock will be crazy!
It comes down to looking after yourself, and being kind to yourself. It might seem great to be lazy, stay inside on the couch, stay up late, never drink water, and have lollies for lunch every day BUT if it is making your brain and body tired, lazy and out of shape that is not being kind to the amazing body that you have. You will regret it in February when you are puffed out just from climbing the stairs to the studio, before class has even started!
Remember: EVERYTHING IN MODERATION – this really means everything, even your exercise and stretching! So this holidays, have fun, relax and treat yourself, but make sure give your body some love when you can too – you will be very glad you did!
Happy New Year and THANK YOU for reading my first few blog posts! See you all again when Term 1 begins!
Concert time! That crazy, exciting, stressful, action-packed time of year is here! So how do we get on top of everything and make sure we can get through the big night smoothly? Read on for my top concert survival hacks, and enjoy an awesome night!
Checklist, checklist, checklist.
Your checklist is your best friend. Either make your own or your teacher might have given you one which you should always double check and add to.
Include EVERYTHING! Small accessories like gloves or hair ties, plus shoes, tights, even the right socks and undies for each routine. Need a specific bra for one costume? Add it to the list. You should also include your makeup and hair essentials, drinks and snacks. Add extra supplies for emergencies: bandaids, scissors, a small sewing kit is always handy. Makeup wipes, and extra safety pins, even strapping tape if you need it. Everything goes on the list! Pack in advance (don’t leave it til the last minute!) and triple check that checklist as you go. Don’t just leave it up to mum, you need to pack or at least do it together so you know exactly where everything is. Knowing you have everything on hand will make you feel less worried backstage.
Bonus: Pack SPARES. Need black socks for a routine? Throw in a second pair. You might just save a team mate’s life when she realises she has left hers on the kitchen counter 2 mins before curtain! (Growing up I was usually the one who forgot my socks, not the one who packed spares… actually I still kind of am that person. Trust me, if you bring spares you will be loved forever by that poor person you help out!) Also if you wear stockings of ANY kind you gotta have spares. The person with no spare pair is always the person who gets a huge hole before the performance!
It’s not just what you pack, it’s HOW you pack. Everything folded in one duffel bag together = nightmare during quick changes! Put each costume with all its accessories it’s own clearly labeled bag. When you arrive at the theatre take time to look over the running order/program and arrange your costumes with the first routine at the front or on the top of the pile. Put everything in order so you are ready for those quick changes, and take this time to do a final check that you have everything.
You need to also have a way to organise what you are taking off. During a quick change there are usually bits of costume flying everywhere and before you know it you can only find one shoe, and that perfectly organised pile looks like a tornado has hit it! Almost every year I am tearing a dressing room apart looking for someones hat that they “seriously put right there a minute ago!!!!”.
If you have every costume in a separate bag, make sure you put that costume back in the bag as you get changed. You might have a separate empty bag, tub or laundry basket to put these clothes in. Whatever the plan is, stick to it! It’s little things like that that will make a huge difference and keep you feeling calm in the dressing room.
Fuel Your Body.
What you eat directly impacts all areas of our performance including our energy levels, muscle performance and even our mental alertness. Your body is exactly like a car that needs petrol to run, so make sure you are fueling your body high-performance ingredients. The night before: Eat a great dinner that your body will be able to use tomorrow. Dancers love carbs! Go for brown rice or wholegrain pasta. Pair your carbs with good fats and protein for optimal performance: the protein will help the sugars release more slowly. On the day of the show you should eat regular small meals rather than one huge lunch so keep you feeling light and to keep energy levels up. Don’t skip breakfast! Even if you aren’t hungry, you need this kickstart to the day. Slow energy release foods are best, like greek yogurt with granola and berries. Keep snacks on hand during the show too. A banana is our favourite energy booster, along with trail mix or cheese and wholegrain crackers. Try to resist the urge to just go crazy on the lollies! You will get a great rush of energy when the sugar hits, but it won’t last long and you will soon feel even more tired than before. Of course throughout the day you need to HYDRATE! It doesn’t matter if you don’t “feel thirsty” just keep sipping. Your muscles will thank you!
Remember to fuel your car properly so it can drive the distance!
Catch some zZzZzZzzzz’s.
It can be hard when you are full of nerves and excitement, but sleep is SO important in guaranteeing a great athletic performance. Did you know Olympic athletes often sleep up to 12 hours a night!? It is treated as an important part of their regime just like their training and diet! Sleep is the time when your muscles repair and grow, making sure that when you wake up your body is strong, not fatigued, and is ready for action. The last thing we want when we are performing is tired muscles or low energy.
On any game day or performance you need to be mentally switched on. Sleep increases your reflexes and reaction times, it helps you think clearly, aiding concentration and memory to prevent you from making silly mistakes at crunch time. You will be much more focused on a full night’s sleep.
To make sure you get a good night’s sleep make sure you don’t snack too late at night (the food will turn into energy and keep you awake), and try to reduce screen time an hour before bed. An hour with no computers, iPads or phones will help you wind down and get a great sleep.
Get in the zone.
Arriving at the theatre on concert day is SO exciting! All your dance friends are buzzing around the dressing rooms and there is a special feeling of nerves and excitement that you only get on concert day. Among all the chatter and excitement and selfies, remember to take the time to organise your costumes, snack and hydrate and get in the zone. Make sure you know where everything is, what order your routines are, where your quick changes are. And get prepared. Get hair and makeup done as early as you can so you have time to chill, so you know you won’t be running around looking for your brush as the overture is playing! Then find a little space for yourself, and get warmed up. Warming up your body and stretching is just as important for your mind as it is for your body. Breathe deeply and listen to your body. The butterflies will be easing up and you will be in your concert zen in no time.
And finally… enjoy your moment!!!!!
This is your night! Leave it all on the stage and savour every beat! Concert time is where you feel alllll the feels. It can be bittersweet performing your competition pieces for the last time, nerve wracking performing new routines and exciting showcasing the products of your hard work and passion – so enjoy it! You have worked hard for this, and now you can trust that your hard work in the studio has set you up for a great performance on the night. Don’t forget to be present on the stage with your team mates and friends. Feel their energy on stage with you, enjoy the stage and the lights and the dance, and realise that you are doing what you love for the last time this year. When you are up there really feeling the love, your genuine smile will light up the stage.
Chookas to everyone with concerts, recitals and show-offs coming up! Congratulations on all you have achieved this year, and I hope the performance is one to remember. Enjoy!