Exercise for Dancers

If you have been dancing for more than two years and you sit during your day job, you need to do targeted exercises for your back and stomach otherwise you have a high chance of back problems.  At least that has been my experience when talking to people, like myself, who sit all day and dance all night.  About three years into my dance life, I started having back pains and at first, I figured it was mostly brought about by dipping my partners.  Dips are horrible on a body because they, at times, can put a lot of unexpected force on muscles rarely used.

I now do two things – I don’t dip as low and do a number of daily exercises that target my back for the times I unexpectantly hold all the weight of my follow.  The exercises work the core and include both stomach and back crunches.  Do any google search and find one that works for you.  My exercises consist of sixty sit-ups and a similar number of crunches laying on my front with first, swinging my legs up and then arching my back.  At first, I could only do about 5 or 10 reps, but have since worked it up to sixty.

I also work at a computer for most of the day (gads, here I sit writing this!) and my right shoulder is a problem.  Again, there are a near infinite number of shoulder exercises but the two that I do are as follows – first I stretch it by putting arms over my head while laying my back and holding them there in the “soft” spot where I can feel a bit of discomfort.  I know the stretch is working because after a few weeks, the “soft” spot slowly starts to go away.  The second exercise is to hold my elbows and fore arms together in front of my body and then rotate the arms at the shoulders until the arms are sticking out either side of my body.  I can really feel the shoulder open up and again, I started with low reps with no weights, and graduated to high reps with weights.

I can report that my back and shoulders are doing great!  I hope yours can too.

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Joining a Dance Team

I was recently asked what suggestions I would give to someone wanting to join a dance team and the answer is this:

First, don’t give up too easily.  If you really want something, continue to find paths to explore your enjoyment of it.  When it comes to dance teams, their turn-over is high, which means even if you don’t get in the first time, stay in contact with the team organizer.  You may not make the first round, but even if a better dancer is picked ahead of you, they may not actually join and open a spot for you.  There are also other dance teams, even in a small Salsa dance community like Edmonton.

Second, the competition matters but it is something you have no control over, don’t worry about it.  Your chances of getting on a dance team are high if everyone else who tries out suck.  The opposite is true too but you at least have control over your own abilities and skills.  Know this – the number of great dancers in Edmonton is small and in demand.  Joining a team is easier for good male dancers, who are rare birds, then it is for females.  From my experience, most teams have more than enough females and struggle to find enough men (Maybe the  learning curve has something to do with it)

Third, passion and attitude matter – You may not be best looking, the quickest to learn, but if you show up to every single practice, help the team social dynamics and more than pull your weight (i.e. help run finances, order costumes, etc.), team organizers will prefer you.  It especially works to your advantage if you have a positive history with the team organizer.

Here are a few things to expect once you join.  First, teams change.  Depending on who shows up consistently the team will either be too hard or too easy.  If your frustration level is too high and everybody else seems to be acing everything, maybe you need to step away to bring up your level.  Conversely, if you find the training boring and everyone around you seems to be slow, then find a better team.  From my own experience, our team was virtually unrecognizable from the time it started until our first performance at the Calgary congress.  It then dissolved as people stepped away for personal reasons and became something anew.

Don’t think of a dance team as the last stop – they are stepping stones.  Aim for a better team, but start with a newly formed one first.  Once you build a reputation, you will join smaller and smaller dance teams until, you and a partner are killing at the next congress.

As an aside – teams are usually good value for your money if you are dedicated – most team organizers also teach lessons in a variety of other similar dance types.  For a flat monthly fee, anywhere from $100 to $150 depending on the team’s ambitions, travel and outfit costs, you can take those other dance classes for free.

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