Competition Prep

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At school at the moment I teach/coach our Aerobics Gymnastics teams. This is my second year coaching the team and it’s been one of the highlights of my year. I pretty much get to work with the most awesome/lovely/talented/hardworking girls in the school, so what’s’ not to enjoy!

Training has been pretty intense this term with lots of early mornings and lunch times, but the girls have put in so much time and effort and their dedication has been truly awesome!

Tomorrow is their first of two big competitions – they will be competing against other middle school/intermediate teams in the Intermediate Aerobics Comp before heading to regionals next term. Hard though they’ve worked, there still a bit nervous. Today we talked about things they can do to help them get ready for their competition tomorrow, and I thought I’d share them with you. They work well for any stressful event, competition or otherwise, and have been amassed over the years from my gym competitions as a teenager, to ballet exams, to directing dance performances at school.

 

Preparing for Competitions (and other stressful events)

Sleep Well – Get a good night’s sleep the night before and go to bed on the earlier side of your usual time.

Sort Out Your Dance Bag (the night before) – it’s so much easier to stay relaxed if you are not rushing around trying to find bits and pieces at the last minute.

Pack Spares – bobby pins, tights, bun nets… they always break and it’s so easy to have a couple of spares stashed away

Pack Plenty of Food – You’re going to be active, therefore you need to eat. Planning to bring you own food is a. cheaper and b. probably a lot better for you than buying something there (if that’s even an option!)

Drink Water – drinking water is one of the best things you can do for your body especially when dancing

Stop Practicing – this is a big one, don’t spend the 24 hours before a competition practising madly, it just adds to the stress level, use this time to relax. If you still want to practice then mentally walk yourself through your dance/routine.

Don’t Overstretch – the last thing you want is to be sore on competition day. A warm up and a gentle dynamic (moving) stretch is much better then overstretching muscles risking injury.

Relax – do something you enjoy, read a book, play with a pet, anything that takes your mind of the competition and helps your brain to wind down.

Do any of you have competitions/performances/etc. coming up soon? What are your rituals pre-performance?

Why Dance?

It took me many years to grow into myself as a dancer. Part of that was physically growing into the grace of my own body as a teenager, part  was finding a style that was truly me, and part was finding my own ‘voice’ so that I could communicate my stories and ideas to others. Of course, I’m really still growing into myself as a dancer and don’t expect I’ll ever actually stop.
As a teenager, my dancing was a case of you-name-it-I-did-it, except for hiphop. That just never seemed to work. It wasn’t until I was at university and took a contemporary class that I found a style I could really get on well with. I never held any high aspirations of being a dancer professionally or teacher. I just loved to dance.
But even when you love something, you can be exhausted by it. So I quit dancing and it took me 5 years to go back. That was almost two years ago. And I have my students to thank for it. They reminded me what it is to love dancing for the pure joy of it, and now I wonder how I did without it for those 5 years.
Since getting back into dance and doing more of it with my own students, I have found myself beginning to make plans and set goals. Never having aspired to be a professional dancer, it has taken me a while to find my niche in dance. But if the last few years have taught my anything, it’s that teaching dance is something I’m passionate about and want to do more of.

I’m a big believer in the power of dance to inspire us and give us something to aspire to; and this is what I love about working with my students at school. Some aspire to be professional dancers one day, but most dance simply because they love it, because they can’t imagine not dancing. I’m constantly in awe of my students, and their passion has reinvigorated my own.

I don’t know where my dance-teaching journey will lead, but, after all, it’s the journey not the destination that really counts isn’t it?

What is DanceWell?

I’ve blogged for a long time and I’ve danced for a long time too, so in many ways DanceWell is the inevitable collision of the two. Having come back to dance as an adult and as a teacher, my sense of dance and understanding of the powerful role it can play in creating wellness has changed the way I view dance.

Having the benefit of seeing dance as a curriculum subject within the New Zealand schooling curriculum and over a decade of traditional syllabus based dance class experience, I wanted to find a way to marry the two. So I decided to tackle my biggest dance challenge yet – getting my teaching Licentiate for Ballet, while developing my school’s co-curricular dance programme.

Both of these have been a huge source of satisfaction for me, but have challenged me immensely to develop my understanding of dance pedagogy (teaching practice), dance theory, ballet and contemporary technique, dance history and, perhaps the most interesting to me, dance wellness.

So what is DanceWell? For now, it’s a creative space – a combination and a culmination of my learning and research. A place to share our stories of what it means to be dancers, and what it means to dance well, as well as advice on how to develop dance wellness.