Getting ready for a competition is like listening to Ravel’s Bolero -it starts out quietly builds up in volume adding instruments along the way, repeats …building a driving theme and finally ends in a crescendo that reverberates as much in its percussive ending as the silence that follows.
Tomorrow I’m competing in the Fred Astaire Whippany competition. I’m remembering how the getting ready part each time is a shock – I’ve conveniently forgotten from the last time the things that need to be done as a preparation before the competition. It’s a lot, and I know from others they feel it too. We forget each time, much like the excitement of an upcoming vacation highjacked by overwhelm while trying not to forget to pack anything vital.
The day of, or the night before there is a mental and physical expenditure of energy culminating in a crescendo – the actual comp. And let’s not forget all the stuff that comprises that build up:
- Remember to bring dress(es), shirts/pants, shoes, makeup, jewelry, tanning supplies, hair stuff, good snacks and a slew of other things…..
- Choose warm up 1 hour before dancing. (I like a combo of yoga, gyrokinesis, and actual dancing).
- Try not to freak out while going over routines sans partner when you can’t recall what comes next.
- Stay focused on your technique while being completely saturated in the sytle of dance; romance, flirtation, strong and assertive attitudes, hip action, softness, agressiveness, lightness, grounding.
- Maintain the style of the dance throughout.
- Before bedtime go over your routines outside of the bedroom. You will be less likely to do it while you are supposed to be sleeping.
I was inspired to write this during a lesson with one of my dance teacher students when we spoke about her daughter’s difficult role in the ballet Bolero. The choreography matched the driving nature of the music, non stop and relentless starting slowly and working its way towards a crescendo which meant that the most intense part was at the beginning of the halfway point. For the entire 26 minutes, she was on stage Her comment: “I feel like vomiting”.
Well that is an unpleasant feeling! Especially while trying to express beauty in movement. In this instance, I encourage a complete assessment of energy output, efficiency of muscular use – tossing out excessive contraction. Adding more breath and pacing yourself. This is has to be done in the rehearsal as the adrenaline present in performance can be a negative if it is coupled with too much doing.
It’s always fun to rediscover something long forgotten, something that was wonderful, something that created a sea change in the artistic world and screams. Torvill and Dean were champion ice dancers in the 1984 Olympics and they were the first to perform to one complete piece of music, uncut by a mix of music selections that were so common. Their music: Bolero. (It was not the complete Ravel Bolero at 5 minutes but the drama of the piece was there).
Notice the ease and flow of their dancing, simplicity, passion and musicality. The synergy between them looks energy saving. They dance as one. You can watch Torvill and Dean’s performance here. Enjoy!
If you know other dancers who may benefit from reading my blog, please forward.
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