Monday, February 18, 2013

Pet Peeve: Frustration and Not Dancing

For a dancer, realizing she can't dance (whether it's on her own or being told by a teacher or doctor) is morally and emotionally crushing. Sitting out of class seems nice at first (finally get to rest), but your heart and soul want to dance! Your body just isn't into it.

For the past 3 years, I've dealt with injury after injury: foot (cuboid), knee, back, foot (cuboid again), back (vertebrae), foot (navicular), back. I suppose I'm lucky that none of these injuries have put me in crutches or casts and that I've largely been able to function on my own, but many of them have taken me out of class for significant periods of time.

I'm writing this because I've been struggling with a twisted vertebrae (which is pulling 9 others out of place with it) since October. It took me out of class for a month and a half and I'm still adjusting. And just today during class, I felt something in my lower back go. I'm currently dealing with low back pain with which I can't walk or sit without feeling.

So what do you do when you have an excruciating injury? Ice/heat, roll it, stretch, or rest. Talk to your teacher. Talk to a doctor. Talk to friends, physical therapists, parents. Anyone who will listen, you tell and get advice from, hoping something will fix it. Opinion after opinion and you realize that you're just going to have to live with it for a while.

And that's when you start to give up. Exercising releases endorphins, which you're not getting anymore. Your brain and body are used to those endorphins. Dance is your life, and it's something you can't do right now. All you want when you're tired and dancing is to sit out and watch, but when you're injured and watching, all you want is to dance. Desperation, mild depression, and frustration settle in because there's little you can do but wait. We've all been there.

All I can offer is to cry. Cry with someone who will listen and get it all out from time to time. Write if that's your method of getting it out. You need some way of releasing the tension and frustration that isn't dancing (usually how dancers release tension...) because you can't dance. If you let the frustration and negative energy sit and build in your body, it will take even longer for you to heal.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Youtube Best of the Best: Updates 26

Kimberly Cole Music Video Audition
This makes me so happy, that people without training and who would normally be overlooked can go all out and work the room. He's sexier than I am. Probably.

Kyle Hanagami - Thrift Shop
Slightly obsessed with this song (oops), but this video is pretty incredible. I love the way they go in and out of groups with the choreography and how involved the camera is with the movement.

Yun Qun Shui Xiu (Chinese Water Sleeves)
I'm a little biased because I'm using Chinese Water Sleeve videos as research for a piece I'm currently choreographing, but I think this is quite amazing. If you've never heard of Water Sleeves, it's a Chinese dance form where women wear silk dresses with very long sleeves. The sleeves are supposed to mimic the flow of water or ink (calligraphy).

Leann Alduenda - Jesse and Sebastian
Two very different but beautiful dancers performing a beautiful combination with a beautiful ending.

Pacman & Jaja - Home @ Heart
Really sick choreography, also a super cute theme.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Tools of the Trade

Being a dancer is expensive. You pay money for classes and leotards and shoes and band-aids, then you pay for physical therapy and doctors when you're injured, then you don't get paid that much in the end if and when you secure a job. That being said, there are some tools (I call them "toys") that can make it less expensive in the long run by keeping you toned up and loose. I present to you a full total workout and general dancer well-being kit with only a few tools:

Tool #1: foam roller
Photo Credit

 Foam rollers are great. You can roll your legs, your back, your glutes, etc when they're tight and tired. You can use them to do exercises (see photo above). You can use them to whack people. Who doesn't want a giant tube of foam?

Tool #2: weighted yoga balls
Soft Weighted Workout Balls
Photo Credit
These balls can be used as weights for arm strengthening (2 lbs isn't much, but as a dancer, you don't want bulky muscle. Lean muscle is built with less weight and more reps). My Pilates teacher likes to use them as an indicator of whether or not you're scooping your abs (put it on your stomach when you do Pilates exercises/crunches). The dance kinesiologist in my department uses them to help release pecs (lie on top of the ball with it situated right under your collarbone next to your armpit). Put one between your knees while you're doing exercises to remind yourself to keep them together. Use it as a doorstop...

Tool #3: theraband
Replaces: foot stretchers, yoga straps, dumbbells/weights
Theraband stretch
Photo Credit
The theraband is basically your at-home, all-in-one gym. You can use it for strengthening exercises (pull the band as taut as you want in order to add resistance) or stretching (see above image). Different thicknesses/weights of bands will provide more or less resistance as well.

Tool #4: pinky ball/spiky ball
using a reflex ball
Photo Credit

Photo Credit

If you have plantar fasciitis, a spiky pinky ball is your best friend. It will help break up that tension build up and get your fluids flowing again. A pinky ball is great for feet (as seen above), but I personally love using them for sciatica. If you have a knot in your butt, or your turnout muscles are just dying from your first day back in ballet in 2 months (hear, hear...), lie on your back and put the ball underneath your butt with your leg bent at the knee and roll around until you find the sore spot. If you're brave, let the leg drop to the side. Feel the relief! It follows the searing pain, I swear.

Tool #5: epsom salt
Epsom Salt Bath
Photo Credit
When all else fails, epsom salt is there to help draw the lactic acid out of your muscles after a long day. An epsom salt bath can help warm up your muscles and simultaneously detoxify your body so that you can stretch after your bath and that you'll be less sore the next day.