I grew up doing with the dance competition circuit. In high school I evolved to the colorguard, band and drum corps competition circuit. Now that I am all grown up, I can see again that performances come in waves. This time of the year always seems to be performance season in the Belly Dance community (though other times of the year get pretty hectic as well). Here are some ideas to help keep a dancer sane for this busy time of the year when ever it is.
1. Stay Organized:
When things feel as though they are piling up, its important to keep organized. Try and be organized in as many aspects of your shows as possible. Its good to keep your costumes, makeup and accessories in order. It is worth investing in a quality bag or suitcase to take to a performance. Also invest in a bag (or a few) for your makeup and accessories. You can organize by style, color or anything else that makes it easier during that frantic pre-show moment. A few hours at home doing cleaning and arranging your things will relieve loads of stress at a show.
2.Do not over schedule – I love performing and hate to turn down a good show, but it is important to prioritize during a busy week or month. You do not need to do everything! Pick the best shows for you and make sure you have enough time to prepare. Be conscious of the choices you make and that you pick the best opportunities. It is better to be amazing for one or two shows, than to be overworked and stressed for four or five.
3. Show up early and plan to leave late – Always be early for a show (easier said than done)! If you are asked to arrive at 5:00 PM, than be there at 4:30. It is more professional and will help you prepare for that last minute mishap. Plan to leave a show late. You will rarely get out early. Planning for a show to go late will help with scheduling your life and your performances.
4. Take a Bath – Take care of yourself after you perform. A good soak in a bath will do wonders to relieve the stress and soreness from a show. If a bath is not your thing, please take some time to relax after the show. Even 10 min of dedicated “me time” will help me to let the adrenaline from the performance release (mainly from my muscles) and help the get me prepared for the next show (it also helps me sleep).
5. Take Care of your Body – Take note of injuries or aches and take care of yourself. In the craziness of performance, we can stop listening to our bodies. Small problems can lead to big injuries, so listen to yourself and take care. Don’t forget to take care of your feet. As dancers they are used more than any other part of the body, yet we forget them. This is a post on reducing foot pain. Just like with taking a bath, a little goes a long way.
Good luck during your crazy performance times.
Do you have any suggestions for the busy times of the year?
The key with the belly flutter is to get relaxed and practice. It is a contraction of the muscles that control breathing and not actually the abdominal muscles. Usually these muscles are referred to as the diaphragm. Strictly speaking the diaphragm is actually a set of involuntary muscles (meaning you can not control them) and the muscles you are using are called the intercostal muscles. These muscles, just like any other group of muscles, needs to be stretched and exercised to be effectively used.
This is a simple E how article on how to do the basic belly flutter. Below that are two videos. The first is a short explanation on flutters and the second goes in a bit more depth.
If you are practicing the belly flutter I suggest you start laying down or sitting. Doing this will help you relax you abdominal muscles since you do not need to focus on posture or layering. Also laying down forces your intercostal muscles to work more effectively which can help in isolating and practicing this move. The most important thing about this step is to practice, which I plan on doing as much as possible.
Note: How to stretch you breathing muscles
I learn this one in Drum Corps years back. Stand up straight with you hands clasped over your head. Take a deep breath in and hold it. Take two to three more little sips of air. At this point you should feel full to the brim with air. Now hold the air in and slowly do a side bend stretch. You can do this to each side and if you have enough air, you will be able to stretch the muscles that are used for breathing. I find this is good to do beforehand after practicing the belly flutter. (Warning some times taking in that much air can make you dizzy. Its normal. Just resume breathing regularly and it should pass.)