Hi there! CarliAnn here. Recently, I found an article titled
Taking up ballet in old age may help ward off dementia: And, don't worry, those creaky knees needn't hold you back!
Naturally I had to read it. Now if you are like me and are beginning to feel the creaks of your body. Wondering how long your body will allow you to dance, then this article will renew that dream of dancing forever. Granted you may not be able to do the grand allegro combinations as you do now, but that is not to say you won't perfect the petit allegro. And heck, if it "wards off dementia" and helps keep my back straight and aligned, sign me up forever! What I like about this article is that it inspires hope and motivation to stay active for as long as I possible can.
There are many benefits to staying active for as long as you can. The saying "If you don't use it, you lose it" holds true with muscle mass. With less use your muscles, there is a decrease in mass, known as atrophy. Atrophy happens in adults of all ages who decrease their activity and thereby their use of muscles. This same saying holds true for bone density. Dense, strong, bones are extremely important. Broken bones become a very real danger to our health as we grow older, because of the complications that can arise. Maintaining an active lifestyle with weight-bearing activities , such as walking or ballet class, will encourage the body to keep strong bones. Our bodies likes to run efficiently. This means that if muscles or bones are not being used, our bodies do not want to expend the energy to maintain them at a higher level than is necessary for our activity.
In short. check out the article above. I hope it inspires you. And most importantly keep dancing your dance.
Spring is here, and what does that mean? SPRING BREAK!!!! For young dancers this often means time
off from classes, as well as time off of school. Time to rest and recover is not a bad thing, sometimes a
necessary thing and not something that should be feared. To highlight my point, I'd like to share an article from Pointe Magazine discussed the importance in rest for a very common injury, shin splints. http://pointemagazine.com/issues/junejuly-2009/scoop-shin-splints
Dancers often feel that any time off means that they aren't working hard enough and are going to get "out
of shape" but just because you're not in class, doesn't mean you stop working.
The International Association of Dance Medicine & Science was established in 1990 by a group of international dance medicine practitioners, dance scientists, dance educators and dancers. Since it’s inception, the association has grown to over 900 members from 35 different countries around the world. The goals of the association can be summed up by their mission statement:
"IADMS enhances the health, well-being, training, and performance of dancers by cultivating educational, medical, and scientific excellence."
Every year a scientific conference is held in venues around the world. This annual meeting is multidisciplinary and attended by healthcare professionals, educators, artists, administrators and dance professionals. Becoming a member of IADMS has a number of benefits, the greatest being the information that can be gathered regarding dance medicine/science knowledge and the connections that can be made attending the meetings and joining in on the discussion of new findings.
To become a member visit the IADMS website: http://www.iadms.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1
IADMS is a great resource for any dance science/medicine questions because they are continually publishing new findings as the demand for the knowledge grows.
IADMS website. About IADMS. 2013 http://www.iadms.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=8
There’s nothing better than being prepared. If you’re not prepared, be resourceful.
Every dancer should have their own dance bag. We personally like to use athletic bags for a number of reasons, the two main reasons being:
1) They tend to have a number of pockets which helps to keep it organized
2) They usually have a pocket with a vent to help with those smelly shoes!
What dancers should keep in their dance bag will vary depending on the season they’re in, but there are a number of essential that should be included:
- Mini first-aid kit. It’s easy to purchase small pre-assembled first-aid kits from the store that contain most of the essentials, however, there are couple things that should be added:
o Disposable ice pack. You never know when you might need it, keeping swelling down on a new injury can be essential for a quick recovery.
o Tensor bandage (ACE bandage). Again, you never know when you might need to wrap a sprained ankle and the sooner you are able to start compressing the injury the better.
o Tape. This includes both athletic tape and toe tape. We recommend Johnson&Johnson brand, but there are many types. Tape is often used to help prevent nasty blisters from forming.
- Snack Food. Keeping a granola bar or a similar non-perishable item in your dance bag is a good practice. It will come in handy for those days when you’re in rehearsal longer than expected, or for those days when you just seem to need a little extra bit of energy.
- Water Bottle. You should always keep a water bottle with you. Enough said.
- 2nd pair of shoes. Rotating your shoes (particularly pointe shoes) will help them last longer. You never know when you’ll need your back-up pair.
- Spare Uniform. Depending on your dance style, it’s good to keep an extra pair of things like tights, leotards, jazz pants etc.
- Warm-Ups. Layers help to stay warm, especially during performance time when you go for long period of time without moving. Having your warm-ups handy will help prevent your muscles from prematurely cooling down.
Once your dance bag is complete and stocked, the next step is keeping it organized. Depending on the bag you have it can be a bit of a challenge. Zip-lock bags can become your best friend. They come in all different sizes so even your bigger items can be made to fit. Keeping different pieces of your dance bag in zip-locks also helps to keep everything smelling like feet! Like we mentioned before, bags with pockets can be a big help, but there are always ways to make do with what you have. Everyone function’s a little differently, so by all means, let us know what you keep in your dance bag!
The lead up to any performance is a stressful time for most dancers. Days become longer as the hours spent rehearsing in the studio increase. Avoiding injury and illness is imperative at this time. 127th St. Dance asked us to put together some information to help their dancers prepare for the upcoming performance SPIRITO. Here are some of the helpful hints we gave them:
Make Sure you Warm UP!!
A proper warm up prepares the cardiovascular system and nervous system for physical activity. It increases blood flow, muscle temperature and core temperature. This increases tissue elasticity, allowing muscles to adapt more rapidly and respond faster. Nerve impulses fire more frequently, promoting quicker responses to stimuli. A solid warm up prior to any physical activity is integral in preventing injury and muscle soreness.
Warming up also enhances your proprioceptive and somatic senses. You become more in tune to where your body is in space and where your body requires more attention. Dancers are known to have stronger proprioceptive sense, and warming up helps enhance this. It ensures that you are adequately prepared to move and express yourself.
Lastly, it’s important to have your head in the game. A warm up is a great way to let go of all distractions from outside the studio and bring you to the task at hand. Taking the time to do a proper warm up commits you to maximizing your potential.
You only have one body, Protect it!
You want to do everything you can to help prepare and protect your body. Warming up properly is a big component but it’s also important that you have the appropriate equipment for your rehearsals. Knee pads and toe tape are great examples. The goal is to protect your body. Long hours of rehearsal or many days of rehearsals should not prevent you from giving 100% when it’s necessary. Extra clothing can also be used as a protective measure. Layers of clothing can help you stay warm longer during down time.
Be prepared for any type of floor! Know your rehearsal/practice space. If you need means of protection for your feet because your rehearsal space is not appropriate for bear feet, then find a way. Sometimes socks are an option. Sometime Bear Claws/Tiger Paws are a better option. It is obviously ideal to be able to practice on the same type of floor you will be performing on but that is not always an option.
FUeling your Body
Proper nutrition goes a long way, especially during performance season. By properly fueling your body, you are able to bounce back quickly from minor injuries or even just a long day of rehearsals. Keep in mind, eating a well- balanced dinner allows you to have more energy the next day.
Snacking is a great way to keep energy levels up throughout the day. Combining protein with carbohydrates and fats helps to maximize energy potential of the food you eat. Snacks are best when they are small and dense with nutrients. They are NOT meal replacements.
Hydration is another key component to avoiding illness and injury during performance time. A well hydrated body runs better, flushes out toxins and assists the immune system in working effectively and efficiently. Staying hydrated includes more than JUST drinking water. It also includes balancing electrolytes lost to sweat (blood and tears). Being thirsty means that you are already dehydrated. Don’t think you don’t need water if you aren’t thirsty.
Listen to your Body
No one knows your body better than you do. Listen to it! Discover what helps your body best and stick to it. Everyone is different, so things that work for your colleagues may not work for you. Do your best to manage your time, it helps to remove unnecessary stress. Pack snacks and food for breaks, know when your body needs its fuel and when it tends to crash. Stay warm. It seems simple enough, but it can help prevent injuries and keep your head in the game
CarliAnn & Ella