Full-time dancer and Energetiks model Layla shares her advice on seeing improvements sooner rather than later!
I am sure many readers will hear the phrase 'practise makes perfect', which in most cases can be the key to nailing a dance piece. But are you using your time wisely? Time not spent working to the best of your abilities can be time wasted or even worse time spent working yourself into an injury. My name is Layla Burgess and in this blog post I will be talking about how to safely manage your work time using quality rather than quantity. I have been dancing since I was 3 and I am currently in my second year of full time ballet on the gold coast. I am Classically trained but love all styles. I have definitely spent many hours tucked away in the studio. Days where I feel like I haven't even seen the sun, and days where I come home feeling like not a muscle in my body could support myself much longer. I have also suffered from a dislocated knee, which taught me to listen to my body. My body at that stage was tired and overworked, when I didn’t heed the warning signs it hit harder than expected. Coming back from my injury taught me with that within a short amount of time I could overwork my injury and that I really had to do the most important things in that time. Thinking before dancing can be a key step from moving up from just a dancer, to a great dancer.
Each dancer’s goal is to improve as quickly as possible but this doesn't necessarily mean racking up hours in the studio. Alternative ways to improve your dancing with a change of scenery can keep you on your toes and motivate to you work harder. For example if you lack a strong stamina and your new dance piece has you puffing half way through, try going for a brisk walk, light jog, or run through your local park or on the beach. Swimming is also great for building up stamina without putting weight on tired muscles. Use the outside fresh air and nature to clear your mind and give you strength to work on your stamina. The change of scenery can distract you from the dance and give you time to think about other things while actually still improving your dancing. If you're working on a ballet exam and your new adage and you're lacking the strength to hold positions then don't overwork yourself by holding them hundreds and hundreds of times. GO back to basics, think about the muscles you are using, or the muscles you should be using. Go back to the barre, hold on and try the positions slowly, look in the mirror and see for yourself if there is anything wrong that can be fixed. If you have found a key muscle that you think is too weak to hold the position, then work on that one muscle, do some pilates or other strength training on that specific muscle. There is no use practicing something if you're practising it wrong. Move slowly through the steps in your work and analyze each moment in your head before trying it. One hour of very focused work can mean so much more than 2 hours of time in the studio spent talking or not really trying as hard as you can.
My uncle once told me if you practised something for one hour a day you would become an expert in a year. You may not think this would apply to dancing as it is such a diverse sport/art, though in some ways certain elements do. The effectiveness of the time and effort we put in to our classes can improve our technique at different speeds. We think that committing to hours and hours of blood, sweat and tears will drastically improve our dancing. But the truth is it may not. Sometimes smaller portions of dance but with 110% effort and full focus can mean seeing the results you want quicker and safer.
Hope you enjoyed my first article and that this helps you see some improvements in your dancing!
Love Layla Xx
Follow Layla on Instagram: instagram.com/laylaburgess