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April 5, 2011

The non-stop pace of the month of March and adjusting to my new schedule of 15 dance classes a week finally took its toll and landed me with a cold.  To properly recover I cleared my schedule and spent the better part of the weekend sleeping, reading and writing.  It was a welcome shift in my usual work-dance-life flow and reminded me of the importance of stillness and rest, especially when we are training physically and mentally hard.

Photo by Craig Toron

Perusing the internet in hopes of finding some interesting tidbit or article to discuss, I came across two vastly different sets of information.  First, there were articles aimed at rest and recovery from intense exercise.  A lot of weight training and fitness sites discuss taking downtime to allow muscle tissue to heal, but notably was an article that discussed how this is often missing in the context of dance.  Unfortunately it was a paid access to an obscure journal and more than I was ready to pay over to read, but it did leave me wondering about how much this is discussed in the dance community.

Second, there were several mentions of stillness within dance, particularly contemporary dance.  While I don’t have much direct experience with contemporary dance to know about using stillness, I do know that stillness isn’t much mentioned in ballroom dancing, aside from avoiding unnecessary arm and torso movements.  It reminded me of an exercise I used when training with a previous partner.  We used to practice meditating (between runs for endurance training), to help us prepare mentally for competitions – a practice I have fallen out of while on hiatus from ballroom dance.

Circling back around, I’ve decided to recommit myself to finding stillness and rest in my daily life, to help me cope with the stressors of a hectic lifestyle and an intensive dance program.   That may just mean going to bed a little earlier each night, pausing outside to look up at the stars before going to my car after dance class or meditating in the morning before starting my day.  Maybe all of the above.  I’m hoping it will help me stay calmer and focused as I move through my busy schedule and while on the dance floor. Sometimes as a dancer it is easier to stay focused on motion and I forget that to be balanced requires knowing stillness and giving my body and mind downtime to be its best.

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