Build your body !
The body is one of the main tools of work in the field of dance. It is the first and main aspect the dancer will be judged upon. Without a prepared body, technically there is no dance. Therefore, in the same manner, the dancer learns technique; the dancer needs to learn how to build his body from the inside out. A dancer is an artist but also an athlete which is why we say “dance is a lifestyle”. Indeed being a dancer starts from when you wake up with the choice of breakfast you make, until the end of the day through the way you cool down your body and by the number of hours of sleep you get.
There are 3 rules that the dancer should apply:
1. Shape it
2. Protect it
3. Nourish it
1. Shape it
Among people, not a lot of human being (not to say nobody), has a body that matches perfectly the requirements of any type of dance practice. For instance in ballet, it is almost impossible to have naturally all the following in one body:
– Turn out in the hips
– Turn out in the knees
– High arch of the feet
– Long legs & arms
– Small upper body
– Flexible back
– “Good size of neck”
– “Good height”
Indeed, some people do have some of those requirements from birth which cannot really change; but even if you do have all of those aesthetics requirements, the strength needed never comes naturally. Furthermore seeing someone who had almost nothing and worked each single and possible part of his or her body is generally seen as more impressive. The good news is that you can work and improve on most aspects of these requirements, especially if you start at an early age, as the body is more malleable then. However it all depends on your dedication, your willingness and cooperated hard work. In order to do so, there are 3 steps to follow:
a. Identify the requirements
b. Work on it
c. Complete your training with Pilates and/or other sports
2. Protect it
It is important to have an actual understanding of our own body and its biomechanics. We only have one body, so the longer we protect it, the longer the career will be. We have to shape it while protecting it because the goal is to be an employable dancer:
a. A dancer who can use his full range of abilities
b. A dancer who can prevent injuries
c. A dancer who can dance while having an injury
Indeed, with repetition, everybody gets injured at some point but what’s most important is to be able to dance with it. This does not mean to dance when you should not, but being able to balance and adapt your dancing according to your injury. Sometimes we do have to stop completely, but it is crucial not to stop for too long, not to get out of shape and having to build back the strength and endurance.
This implies having a good understanding of anatomy in general but also of your own body. Developing your senses in order to listen to your body and being able to prevent injuries or dance with an injury. Therefore, the more you are injured, the better you get at knowing and working with your body if you reflect on it.
3. Nourish it
In order to be able to build all the muscles you need for your dancing while doing your training, your body needs the appropriate fuel. Indeed, this is about an athlete’s body : fit and healthy ! What you eat has an effect on your training or any physical exercises that you do. So you always have to control your diet in a way and sooner or later any kind of eating disorder will put an end to your career. Of course, everyone says that we have to:
a. Drink enough water
b. Eat healthily
However, you can eat healthily and still not have the body that you need as a professional dancer. Thus it is important to know what “eating healthily” means but also to know “what is it that you need as an individual” and balance your diet accordingly. This does not mean that you should be obsessed with your weight or your diet, but it is important to know the type of body that you want and need to achieve your goal. Once you do, it is also important to know if this goal is realistic depending on your physical abilities. According to this, it is the dancer’s duty to balance and vary the amount of vegetables, proteins, sugar, and carbs eaten three (or more) times a day. Be free ! Make the decision and do your best to achieve your aim !
What would you say is the hardest rule to apply : shape it ? protect it ? or nourish it ?