Tomorrow marks the beginning of the week of private practice I have while my studio is closed for Thanksgiving break. Ok, technically I have a “real” class tomorrow night, but I’m going to take advantage of any opportunity I have, and in this case that means going to the studio in the morning to practice by myself. And so, I do consider tomorrow to be Day 1 of this special week that I hope will prove to be invaluable to my progress and growth as an artist, and especially to my recovery from my recent injury.
I have this week to practice everything I need to practice under the watchful eyes of absolutely no one but myself through the mirror. The timing for this could not be better, because I think that right now I need nothing more than a good week on my own to refine whatever I need to refine before jumping back into class fully and feeling like I’m back to my old dancing self.
Tomorrow I intend to implement a new warm up routine. I used to keep a paper with a long list of exercises tucked away in my dance bag, and every day before class I would go through each exercise — and if I didn’t, then I wasn’t ready for class. Over time, I learned my routine by heart and continued to do it without the aid of the “official list”, but — as does happen with everything — my routine evolved. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — I learned which exercises I absolutely had to do before class and which exercises I could skip for a day if I was running short on time; I added new exercises to my repertoire as I came across them; and so on. But overall, I am not pleased with where I have ended up right now [in regards to the warm up routine].
The past several years have held many surprises for me and have closed some doors, opened new ones, and, most importantly, have infused new experiences into my life and have broadened my scope of wisdom and knowledge. And with everything that happened, my warm up routine evolved to what it is now. And what it is now is insufficient, inefficient, uninspired.
Now, I find myself unable to warm up really well before class. I used to feel incredible after a warm up, and could tackle a hard class without hesitation and without giving a second thought to how tired, hungry, thirsty, upset, excited, fat, achy, or unfocused I might have felt on any given day. There was no question about it — it just wasn’t an option not to be on task every second I spent in class.
Of course I still behave the same way, I still enter the studio with the same intentions and the same determination to challenge myself in any way I can just to prove to myself that I can overcome even the greatest of challenges. But I find myself stuck, unable to actually put those best of intentions into action, translating my desires into movement. That said, it’s not that I am slacking off. Not in any sense of the word! I am working as hard as ever. Just something about the way my body and mind feels is inhibiting me from being the best I can be.
And I think that the ‘something’ is that neither my mind nor my body are properly warmed up before class. And so, I have come to realize that it is time to revamp my warm up routine and to, once again, make a list to which I can refer so that I can flow through each exercise and know that I am ready to work when class starts.
I spent this weekend looking for my old list and am sad to say I will not be looking for it any further, as I’ve deemed it lost. Perhaps it will turn up again someday, which would be a pleasant surprise; but I don’t need the old list in order to build a new one, convenient as that may have been. I have compiled, from memory and other sources, a list of exercises that I feel will make a great warm up. It’s a long list! But I speak only the truth when I say I am absolutely excited to go back to the old days of taking at least an hour to warm up before class. Ah, the good old days!
All of that aside, I am sure that part of the reason I feel a little off is because I am a little off. It’s been almost 4 weeks since I’ve came back to ballet after a major injury (a fracture of the 5th metatarsal — so it was anything but a walk in the park). I’ve made a lot of progress, and the only thing I have left to add back is pointe. Since I have this week to myself, in addition to getting into the habit of doing my new and improved warm up routine, it’s also very important for me to use this time to work on whatever I need to work on to feel stronger. Because my injury has left me weaker, and I don’t like that at all. Although I am physically weaker, much of the weakness is psychological hesitation and doubt. As confident as I am, I would be lying if I said I felt good about my dancing right now. I don’t — but that’s why I have this week to work on just that!
I do want to actually write down what my focus will be on this week.
- My warm up routine
- Body positions (how I hold and carry myself; upper body; especially my shoulders at the barre)
- Flexibility and strength
- Attitude, arabesque, and passe positions
- Penche in center
- Pirouettes and fouettes
Then I will feel ready to come back after the “break” as I was before — determined and ready to dance without even considering letting anything deter me from my path!
And so, ladies and gents, it is on this positive note that I end my first of many [lengthy] posts.