Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ways to Merge Your Dance and Non-Dance Worlds

FIND A NON-DANCE INTEREST OR HOBBY. Ask yourself the question, “What excites me besides dance?” Get out of the studio every now and then. Perhaps the exhilaration you felt on a mountain hike will transfer into your next grand jeté. Life experiences can enhance artistry and help you better communicate with an audience. Bottom line: Get a civilian life before you need one, and your dancing and choreography may become more interesting.
SPEND TIME WITH ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE. Are all your friends dancers? If so, it’s time to expand your social circle. Houston Ballet first soloist Amy Fote makes a point of maintaining friendships with a diverse roster of people, including non-dancers. Sometimes, she even retrains from telling new acquaintances she’s a dancer. “If people find out I’m a dancer, I could spend the whole evening talking about dance,” she says. “Dance can be a self-centered business; it’s always about me. I’m interested in what other people are doing.” Make a point to go to football games or other sporting events at your school, join a club or volunteer for a local charity.
EXPERIMENT WITH OTHER ARTFORMS. Part of what makes dance so appealing — and what sets it apart from sports — is its artistry. This can be found in many activities. Michel Lees, a psychotherapist and dance-movement therapist who works extensively with dancers and other artists, faced an identity crisis when severe bursitis brought her performing career to an end. “It was a profound death for me,” Lees recalls. “It was as if a language was taken away. Dancing was my way of being in the world.” She learned to release her creative energy through other expressive artforms such as writing and visual art.
CHOOSE A NON-DANCE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY. Is dancing the only way you move your body? Try swimming, jogging, kayaking or other sports — maybe a step from a tennis match will end up in your next dance. Lees also suggests mind/body practices such as yoga and somatics as a means of connecting with your mind. These disciplines can improve strength and flexibility and prevent injury, as well. “It’s important to develop a sense of self from the inside out,” says Lees. “In dance, we’re always in performance mode. Mind/body activities develop our internal sensing.”


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