Promises that count:
How dancers can make the most of New Year’s resolutions
by Jenne Vermes
The holiday season embraces many kinds of traditions, whether religious, social or otherwise. One of the most time honored traditions of the Holiday season is what comes directly afterwards: the promises people make for themselves as they embark upon the clean slate that is a new year. While any promise made to do better by one’s self is admirable, when it comes to dancers, some promises are more beneficial than others to their health and well being and especially their careers.
FITNESS AND WELLNESS GOAL
Any resolution a dancer makes to better his or her body is by far the best promise that can be made. While it is important for anyone to be healthy, regardless of their occupation, it is especially imperative for dancers to keep their bodies in the best condition possible, as it is their instrument, their tool of the trade, what allows them to be the dancers they are. For every dancer, this promise may include different fitness and wellness goals, as every dancer’s body is unique. Some may benefit from resolving to exercise more often to tone up and get in better physical shape for the remainder of the performance season, while others may promise to make better nutritional choices in order to help fight illness, soreness and improve overall health. Regular exercise, including both cardiovascular and resistance training, is vital to maintaining and enhancing the stamina, flexibility and posture dancers need at every rehearsal and every performance.
Also, staying in shape and maintaining flexibility through the holidays will help avoid injury when starting back in rehearsals. The healthier and more fit a dancer is, the longer they will be able to dance, making exercise a top choice resolution.
DIET AND EXERCISE
The words “diet” and “exercise” are buzz words at the beginning of the year, when the majority of the American population redefines these words as part of their New Year’s resolution vocabulary with promises to lose weight and get fit in the coming year. For dancers, these words don’t necessarily follow the same definition, but they are still important. Dieting doesn’t necessarily mean eating less and focusing on losing pounds; for dancers, this means taking better account of what they put into their bodies. Dancers, as athletes, may adhere to more specific nutrition requirements such as higher levels of protein and iron. Ideal resolutions regarding diet include promising to drink water instead of sodas and sugary fruit juices, which will keep blood sugar levels normal and the body fully hydrated, and choosing to pack nutritious snacks for rehearsal like almonds and fruits instead of hitting up the vending machines or snack stands nearby. Moreover, making a personal vow to let go of unhealthy vices such as smoking or drinking is an ideal resolution for dancers, especially considering the negative effects these actions can have on their bodies and thus their careers. For those dancers wanting more information on nutrition and diet, a good resource is Diet for Dancers by Robin D. Chmelar and Sally S. Fitt.
Another popular resolution for the New Year is the promise to keep excess spending in check, which is especially pertinent to dancers in this economy. Throughout the dance season, expenses are ever present. Class fees, costumes, and equipment costs can really rack up over the course of the year, especially considering some items like pointe shoes and tights need to be replaced often. This is one resolution that the dance profession may actually hinder, with all of the catalogues, stores, music downloads and festival and master classes available at all times. It may be hard to resist the temptation to buy new tops or new songs when costume and competition fees are due and it may be difficult to say no to the latest styles of legwarmers from the dancewear store knowing there are two pairs of pointe shoes that need replacing or repairing before the next performance. There are ways of helping one’s self stick to this resolution. Studios and festivals often offer paid-in-full discounts which can both cut costs of much needed training and alleviate some of the burden of bills throughout the season. Also, knowing what the necessary expenses are ahead of time, and planning for them accordingly, will allow for a little flexibility in spending for those who just can’t resist the allure of the newest line of leotards.
As imperative as staying healthy and financially afloat, another important part of dancing, professionally or recreationally, is education. As the ball drops and the New Year arrives, dancers can make an excellent resolution to seek out new classes and further their education as dancers. A change of style can strengthen the body and even improve technique in a dancer’s main area. A lifelong ballerina could benefit as much from taking a hip hop class as a tap dancer can from trying their hand at acrobatics. As can be seen in music videos and on shows like So You Think You Can Dance, the various styles of dance are constantly merging, and nowadays, dancers must be multifaceted in order to compete in the industry. Taking extra classes and branching out to other styles is not only beneficial to fitness and technique, but it’s guaranteed to add some excitement and variety to a dancer’s training routine, making it a resolution worth sticking to. “My resolution in regards to dance is to try to put my focus on new and unfamiliar areas of the business,” says Danny Wallace, faculty tap instructor with New York City Dance Alliance. “To try new things instead of just doing what I am good at.”
New Year’s resolutions give everyone a chance to have a fresh start at something in their lives, and for dancers, this can greatly benefit longevity and success in their art. More important than simply making the promise, though, is following through to the end and dancers around the world should make their 2010 New Year’s resolutions surefire success stories.
A resident of Tallahassee, Jenne Vermes is a professional dance teacher. Having danced for over twenty-two years,
she teaches tap and other dance styles at various studios in Tallahassee, FL as well as master classes at national festivals and workshops. She is a freelance writer for DanceRegister.com, the FSView & Florida Flambeau and DANZ’N (The Dance
Magazine of Florida).
Published in Dance Magazine Florida, February 2010