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jocollinsdancer

Delectable Discussions on Dance

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April 2012

R.I.C.E

Yee-ouch! Last night I managed to accidentaly drop a drawer full of cutlery on my left foot, which resulted in some lovely bruising and a nasty cut. The best part about it is, that the cut is right where the straps of my heels go across my ankle that I am wearing tomorrow night in a performance.

What a very big inconveinience to say the least. Yes it’s only a cut, but my foot was absolutely throbbing last night and the ankle was swollen as well. Not the best thing right before a show. So, on went the ice pack and my foot was perched on top of some bed pillows all night.

This morning when I woke up my ankle was very stiff and tender, and I was seriously getting worried that the injury was more than it seemed. But determind to get on with things, I still went to the gym today and did my legs workout and some cardio to make sure I feel in top shape before the performance tomorrow night.

That was the best thing I could’ve done. Got it moving again. I am so happy I didn’t just rest it, getting the ankle moving has got the blood going again and the swelling has come down since I’ve exercised.

I’m not saying this is the best remedy for all injuries, but it really seems to work for me, that whenever I’ve pulled a muscle or injured something, if I rest it too long it turns out feeling worse and the inflammation lasts longer.

Right after you have injured yourself, I am a firm believer of the R.I.C.E rule, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Then my personal remedy is, get it moving the next day.

Everyone is of course different, and every injury is different, and I by no means claim to be a doctor. But, when it comes to dancing, you don’t want to be out for long, so get that injury moving gently the next day and don’t let it seize up from resting for too long.

Many of us make the mistake of putting deep heat and heat packs on things. Remember that heat helps the inflammation, it aggrivates the injury. So the best thing you can do is stick to ice, a frozen bag of peas, or a nice big frozen stake, whatever you can get your hands on, and get that body part elevated.

No wonder AFL players jump in a bath tub full of ice after each game. It’s a natural miracle worker. Also really good for sore feet after pointe shoes, dip your tootsies into a bucket full of ice for a few minutes and the next day you will be sweet!

Training

This morning I attended an open professional Ballet class followed by a Jazz class, specifically designed to focus on technique, but also to allow those of us with experience to really dance the combinations.

I thoroughly enjoyed the time in the studio this morning, I was dancing my heart out! I worked on my technique paying attention to all my problem spots, and I pushed my legs and my body hard.  Yes you get puffed and tired in class, but if you keep going and push yourself past those barriers it feels amazing afterwards.

I’ve been doing the Jazz class almost every week and it has been fantastic to get an idea of how much strength I am regaining and of course to continually work on my technique. The thing is, if you are a real dancer, a real perfectionist, you should never be happy with your technique or think you have reached the point where there is no more for you to learn.

Nobody’s perfect, so we all need to keep practising. Even when you are a professional dancer you need to keep working on your technique and keep up your A-game. As long as you have the attitude to work hard and always give it 120% you will go far.

It frustrates me when I see dancers who think they have got it made, and they become slack on things like warming up, working on their skills, and rehearsing. I remember when I was at a seminar with Colin Peasely from the Australian Ballet Company, he said to a studio full of young, hopefull dancers..

Getting the job is the easy part. Once you’ve got the job you have to KEEP IT”

I’ll never forget him saying that. No matter where your career takes you, there is always more to strive for, more to experience, more to give, more to be passionate about. There is always room to grow and develop. Choreographers and Dance Teachers don’t want to work with dancers who don’t rehearse and don’t care enough to keep learning. They don’t have time for people like that, and there are hundreds and thousands of dancers out there, so remember you ARE replaceable. If you keep that in mind sometimes, if you need something to give yourself a push, remember there is always someone better out there.

Are you going to just stay at the level you are at, and let other dancers surpass you? Or are you going to rise to the challenge?!

Image

This is a picture of dancers auditioning for the Phoenix Suns. This is only one snippet of all the dancers that were on the court. How are you going to have the confidence to stand out from the crowd in a situation like this? By knowing within yourself that you train hard, you can perform at your absolute best level, and then give them the passion and pizzaz to top it all off.

If you aren’t working hard on your dancing, (and I’m not just talking about doing class I’m talking about doing your own practice, and pushing yourself as well) then you are not going to feel confident going into the audition battlefield!

Trust me, as you get older, it gets harder, especially if you have a break. So do it now! Get into shape now, consolidate your technique now, do your stretches for your problem areas now. Don’t wait for your teacher to tell you to do it. If you want to be good, you have to do it yourself. Because only you will get you there!

If you are a student at a dance school, and dreaming of the day you will be in a company, remember you have to get through the audition process first and you are not always going to have your teacher there to guide you. You need to listen to your teacher, take on board the things he/she is saying, and then go and practice them and apply them yourself. Don’t wait till your next class to do it. It’s too late! By then someone else has applied that correction and has moved ahead of you. You need to take your career into your own hands and make it happen for yourself.

So, here’s to working hard and being able to go out there with confidence and the right attitude!

Presentation and Port de Bras

Look at this stunning picture of Margot Fonteyn and Tamara Karsavina! There is so much passion coming right from inside both of them, and this is in the studio! Not even a performance.

This is what we need to strive to do more of in the classroom with our students and dancers. We all focus so much on technique, but what about the technique of the carriage of the arms, the co-ordination of the head and eyes following the hands, the techniques of acting, the techniques of conveying emotion through your movements to the audience.  There are so many aspects of Port de Bras, Performance and Presentation that we neglect to rehearse in the studio.

Yes of course technique of the body is important, dance has evolved and changed so much these days, and so much more is required of a dancer now that without a solid base the dancer is lost. But I think that many teachers and choreographers, have a natural feel for performance and forget to spend time working on this major part of the dance. The new generation of dancers is so focused on performing amazing “tricks” because of the development of our dance styles and the fusion of things such as acrobatics, gymnastics, and break dancing.

Not that there is anything wrong with these styles collaborating, because that is pushing our art further and creating new and exciting things for all of us.

What we are loosing, is the connection with the audience and many young dancers I see don’t realize that if they dance with soul and passion, it lifts their technique to another level and the movements start to work and technique falls into place, because of that passion.

We all need to remember every time we get in the studio, why we are dancing in the first place. What was it that made you want to dance?

Who or what was it that you saw, that first inspired you to move to the music, or attend your first dance class?

No matter what style you are training or working in, dancing is a way that humans communicate to each other and express something they perhaps cannot express in words.  Dancing is also the visual representation of what is being heard in the music. Students really need to listen to their music more and work to bring out all the little accents and nuances that are there.

Take another look at this gorgeous picture, and just notice the projection of the arms, neck and head from the sternum. Both of these dancers are opening up right from their chest and are using their arms from their centre, not just from their shoulders.

They are “turning out” from their hearts.

So many of us forget to work on arm positions and port de bras, and it is absolutely vital. A non-dancer is of course impressed by the legs and acrobatics, but what they watch and most importantly what they relate to, is the use of the eyes, head, hands and arms.

People use their hands when they talk to each other all the time, and if someone pointed to something “over there” you would instantly look, wouldn’t you? The connection of the hands and eyes isn’t just something dancers do, it’s something we all do in everyday life. That’s why it’s so important to work on the shapes you are creating with your hands and arms, and to make sure you are lifted through the chest and using your arms from your centre – from your sternum and from the upper back between the shoulder blades.

In Ballet the mission is to make everything look so effortless that anyone could do it, so you can’t show any tension in the arms, upper body, or neck. There are still sharp passages of port de bras that call for a stronger presentation, but still it should look easy. If it’s a more modern form of dance, like Hip Hop, then the aim is to show the effort and drive that it takes to achieve each movement and therefore the arms and hands need to be shaped in a way to convey the tension in the muscles and the power behind each movement.

Whatever your dance style, the presentation of your work and the carriage of your arms needs to be practiced. Not everyone has a natural sense of line, or a natural musicality, or perhaps even a natural sense for theatrics and acting. So teachers need to help students practice these aspects and dancers should address them with their choreographers in order to get the best performance.

This needs to start in the studio, which seems to be the place where dancers hold themselves back the most. It’s too late to wait until you get on the stage, you need to work on it now!

So turn away from the mirror, use your imagination and pretend there is an audience of hundreds sitting out in front of you.

How are you going to express to them what is happening inside your heart?

 

 

Hello! Bonjour! Kia Ora!

Hello and welcome to my new blog!

With this blog I aim to create a place where dancers, teachers, choreographers, and dance lovers alike can learn and discuss all things dance related.

No matter what style of dance you perform, teach, or train in, I hope that here I can inspire and help people in the dance industry. (and I’ll probably learn from you along the way too)

I have been a dancer for over 26 years and have been fortunate to work all over the world as a Dancer, Teacher, Choreographer, Adjudicator, Examiner, Flyer and Dance Captain. With my experience I hope to help others who are striving to achieve their dreams to work in the theatre or be involved in some aspect of dance.

I have trained, performed and won awards in many different genres, including  Classical Ballet, Contemporary, Jazz, Musical Theatre, Ballroom, Latin, Swing, Tap,  Flamenco, Cabaret, Burlesque, and more.

I think that the more we can educate ourselves and discuss this wonderful art form that we are a part of, the more we will empower ourselves as professionals of this wonderful industry.  I don’t claim to know it all by any means, but I am happy to share the insights I have gained over my years as a dancer and hopefully inspire some people along the way.

So that’s a little about me, now on to the fun stuff…

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