I'm sitting here with an ice pack on my knee and a big, goofy smile on my face. It's 11:15pm and I recently got home from Riverside where I taught a lesson in East Coast Swing, then we danced the night away! One of the owners of the venue suggested I dance less - take it easy - to protect my knee. What he doesn't fully comprehend is that I'd trade dancing for pain any night of the week! So the saying must be true...
Now, I'm not being ridiculous about my injury. I am trying to push myself in a controlled, intelligent way - which reminds me of a blog request I had some weeks ago. Laura, this one's for you:) The question posed was, what (besides dancing) should dancers do to get/stay in shape and maximize their potential on the floor (i.e. be able to dance all night)?
I truly believe the best exercise for dancers (besides dancing:) is Pilates. The core strength you learn in that discipline directly translates to the dance floor. The more engaged your center, the more relaxed - yet connected - your arms can be. The lengthening you learn in Pilates improves your lines on the dance floor. And as a bonus, Pilates also helps you slim down. Our endurance in any activity increases when we're in good shape.
Weight lifting or some kind of muscle building activity also brings the dancer closer to his/her desired fitness levels. One of my favorite coaches is an avid rock climber - and a Beast on the dance floor:). Dancing and Pilates will help you slim down, but the stronger our muscles are, the more dynamic we can be on the floor. You don't want your Waltz to look the same as your Cha Cha Cha. Dancing has explosions of energy and sustained stretching - you need strong muscles to provide that light and shade.
The last thing I recommend is to do other sports... (just not on Tuesday nights b/c that's when you should all be in Social Dance Class;). Hiking, biking, tennis, golf - whatever your hobby, do it. And notice the similarities between it and dancing. You can't be a great tennis player if you don't get your feet in the right place. If you let the ball crowd you due to lazy feet, you'll never crush it! Good dancing comes from the feet. You have to feel the floor, push into it, and really move your feet - instead of just taking steps.
I could do this with any sport. The point is: there are truths to movement. And when you discover one in one facet of life, you'll be able to translate it to another. Then learning new dances or moves will start to click in ways they hadn't before, which will build your confidence - which, in turn, will get you out on the dance floor more... which will get you into better shape and you'll enjoy dancing all night!
I love it when it comes full circle;) Now, my ice pack is but a soppy shadow of what it once was, soSee you on the hardwood!
leads to another. Last night was the first social dance party at Riverside in Boulder. I teach a lesson from 7:30-8:30pm, then we dance until 10. And did we dance…! The plan is to spend two weeks on each dance, then progress to a different style so that during the dance party (and every social event you attend from now to the end of your days), when the music ranges from Tango to Hustle - you’ll be able to have fun to whatever is playing! And describing last night as “fun” is the understatement of the month!
Most people enjoy a wide range of music - which is why I find it hilarious when they say they only do One type of dance!? Why limit yourself? That’s like eating only one type of food. Ludicrous! Some people claim they can’t learn multiple dances at once. That is simply not true. There are truths to movement that transfer not only to other dances, but other activities in life. My students range from ski instructors to horse back riders to piano teachers. Every time I get the same response: “That’s just like ____” - “skiing… riding a horse… playing piano” - the list goes on. It boils down to: the more you challenge your body and mind - the better you get.
You may get confused with which pattern goes to which dance, but guess what? A lot of the dances borrow from each other! You can do the same moves in Foxtrot that you do in Waltz. The same moves in Waltz that you use in Rumba. Your “go to” moves in Salsa can become your “go to” moves in West Coast Swing. I could go on – but I think you get the picture.
Especially where partner dancing is concerned – it behooves you to know multiple dances. There are principles to leading and following that transfer to ANY partner dance you do. It’s helpful to learn these if you want to be a great dance partner! So, if this doesn’t convince you to bust open that shell you're hiding undrer
and come cut a rug with us on Tuesday nights – watch “So You Think Can Dance” or “Dancing with the Stars” and find out how cool ALL the dances are!
See you on the hardwood:)
Allison loves to write almost as much as she loves to dance, so no one had to twist her arm to get her to write about dancing!