Mindfulness

Discipline and Dance: The Ultimate Guide to Dance Etiquette

If there’s one thing about dance that my parents are ever grateful for, it’s the values of discipline, determination and hard work that dance has instilled in me. To many, the word ‘etiquette’ may sound daunting or pretentious, but this isn’t about identifying the salad fork or lifting your pinky when you drink…oops I meant sip your tea. In fact, dance etiquette comes down to the basic foundations of functioning in the real world, especially when it comes to understanding working culture and effective communication.

 

Rise and Shine! Be on Time!

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 The first rule of dance etiquette is to be on time, and by that I mean be at least 10 -15 minutes early at the studio so that you have time to warm-up your body. This allows you to prepare your mind and body to focus and move beyond your limits. Tardiness is never tolerated in the studio or on the stage, so be sure that time is on your side. It may seem annoying to have to wake up at 6:00am every day to get to your morning dance class, but it’s a routine that will set you up for the demands of the real world.

 

In a Manner of Speaking

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Prince Charming was onto something, because the art of charm can take you far in life. It goes without saying that it is important to use your manners in addressing and communicating with your teachers and peers in dance class. Dance examinations are the ultimate test to whether you’ve been practicing your curtsies, greetings and manners. As old school as it may seem, it’s all about reciprocating respect. Sing it Aretha! Eh-hem! Oh right…Sing it Mrs. Franklin! R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

 

The Studio is Your Second Home

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A dance studio is like every flawless MUJI inspired home…shoes off at the front door! Dance studio floors can put a dent in the bank accounts, so don’t dent the studio floors with your stilettos. Dance styles that require footwear like ballroom, tap, or hip hop either have floors that can handle the impact or they require you to bring ‘indoor only’ dance shoes. So play by the rules and keep those studio floors flawless!

 

Come Prepared

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Make sure you pack your bag with all your necessary dance accessories, and if you’re a ‘Forgetful Freddy’, then make a list or set a reminder on your phone. Dance teachers are not too fond of students who forget their dance slippers or tights. “My dog ate my wrap skirt” will not work here. At a certain point, every dancer is responsible for themselves, from doing their own buns, to packing their own bags, or getting to class on their own. Dance instils team work in a dance routine, but it’s all about responsibility and independence when you are managing your own dance career.

 

Dance Because You Love To

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The last and final rule is to dance because you love to. The only way to be successful at dancing is to enjoy it. If you master this first, all the rules, etiquette, hard work and determination will fall into place naturally.


Photo Credits: Beto Franklin from Pexels, The Center Berlin, and The Dancewear Centre

 

Loving Your Body: The Key to Enjoying Dance

Times are changing, and we as a dance society are slowly but surely moving away from the idea that the body is simply just a frame, and instead we are beginning to see the body as a whole. From the inside of our body which fuels, moves and supports us, to the outside of our body which allows us to express ourselves, while discovering and exploring all that life has to offer!

Loving the body, and treating it with kindness is the key to fully experiencing the joys of dance, as well as discovering the full capacity of your dance abilities. Knowing how to take care of your body is all about truly listening to yourself and your needs, from physical training to rest and nutrition!


Physical Training

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Remember that we all have uniquely different bodies, even if we can be somewhat “categorised”, our bodies are still entirely different from one another. Which is why it is important to give yourself the time to try out different dance styles and supplemental forms of physical training that allow you to reap the most benefits. Common forms of supplemental training that dancers turn to include Pilates, Yoga, Cross-Fit, Running, and Swimming. But have you ever thought about taking up Muay Thai Boxing, Stand-Up Paddle Boarding, Ice Skating, Rock Climbing, or maybe even joining a Trampoline Dodgeball team? By training the body through different types of physical activity, we are setting up the body to be more versatile in dance. We expose the body to unfamiliar movement patterns, rewire our muscle memory, and even target muscle groups that have never been touched! So instead of hitting the gym next time, think about trying a new form of physical training, and who knows you might surprise yourself!

Rest

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With all that talk on the importance of physical training, we sometimes forget that we need to let our bodies rest. Once again, the definition of rest can vary from person to person. Some of us need to let our bodies completely rest by avoiding all forms of physical activity. While others, may define ‘rest’ as being gently mobile throughout the day, doing light stretching or mobility sequences. It is important to know when to rest the body, to avoid overuse injuries. Dancers tend to need that extra rest reminder, as their determination to train and ‘push through’ is one that sometimes causes serious injuries overtime. Resting the body is the first step, but resting the mind also allows dancers to refresh and rejuvenate their ability to pick up choreography or combat those performance nerves.

Nutrition

It goes without saying that our daily diets are never one in the same. We all have different food preferences, tastes, and dietary restrictions. Of course, there are plenty of books, experts, television shows and articles that provide recommendations for a healthy diet. But as dancers, it is important to listen to your body. How does your body respond or react to different types of foods? How often do you need to fuel your body so that you can grand jeté all day? Ideally as dancers, we want to aim for foods that energize us, provide our body with nutrients so that we can use both our brains and our bodies, and of course food that tastes good! Don’t forget to bring your water bottle to class, because staying hydrated allows you to spin, leap and glide for hours on end. One reason why we dance is because it is part of the many joys of life, which is the same reason we love food too! For all the dance foodies out there, be sure to check our Dancers’ Cookbook page!

Give yourself the biggest hug and learn how to find the right balance of training, resting and fuelling your body. Everybody deserves a little TLC! So be patient and take the time to respect the beauty of your uniqueness and individuality. I don’t know about you, but I am ready to treat myself to some dark chocolate, a couple of minutes of shavasana, and maybe even try out tree trekking!

Photo Credits: Dancewear Centre, and Bruce Mars from Pexels

 

Mindful Movement for Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all the women who’ve supported and raised us from day one! To pay homage to all the mothers out there, we here at Hong Kong Dance Moms would like to share our love of movement and dance by showing you some mindful mommy movement exercises to give your mind and body a break.

Wherever you might be, hop into something comfy and take a seat to begin your five minutes of mommy merriment! Follow along with our video and let our fantastic demonstrator and professional dancer, Abigail de Waal lead you through the movements.

It’s all in the Wrists

After a long day of errands, office work, or years of raising a family, mothers carry the weight of the world in their hands, wrists and arms. It’s important to mobilise, strengthen and stretch these muscles and joints as we start to age.

1) Catch and Release: Lifting one hand in front of your shoulder, use your other hand to grasp your fingers around the wrist of the lifted hand. Close your lifted hand into a tight fist and then open your palm wide, repeating this sequence 3-5 times. Make sure to repeat this on the other side as well.

2) Round and Round Again: Stretch your arms straight in front of your shoulders and open your palms wide. Circle your wrists three times one way and then three times the other way.

3) Infinite Interlace: Interlace your fingers, and press the palms together to bring them in towards your chest. Create an ‘infinity’ or ‘figure of 8’ motion with your wrists one way 3-5 times, and then repeat this the other way.

Shoulders were made to Shimmy

When you’re under stress or carrying heavy loads, those mommy shoulders can quickly become mummy shoulders that get stiff and sore when they should be relaxed and free to shimmy.

1) Shoulder Cat-Cow: Place your hands on your knees and roll your shoulders back. Begin to cave your shoulders in and then reverse this by opening them out towards the back. Finish the sequence with a shoulder roll from front to back. Then reverse the sequence, and repeat this 3-5 times.

2) Why so serious?: Let’s not take ourselves too seriously! Shimmy your way down to place one hand on your opposite thigh and rest your elbow on the adjacent thigh. Press away from your leg by unfolding your free arm to the ceiling. Fold back in and repeat this sequence to the other side. Complete this sequence 3-5 more times.

The House of your Brain

They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul, which must mean that the crown of our head is the roof, and the head and neck must be the structure that houses our brain. We often forget to address the tension that we carry in our face, head and neck, so let’s have a ‘housewarming party’ and bring some love into this house.

1) Opening and Closing: Sit up with a lengthened lower back, and keep the shoulders relaxed to create space between your shoulders and ears. Interlace your fingers, keeping the palms open and the thumbs untucked. Place your hands behind your neck at the base of your skull. Point the thumbs down and press them into your neck. While using your hands to pull up the head, press your head into your palms and your palms into your head to create resistance. On the inhale feel the sides of your back open and expand. On the exhale allow everything to relax. Repeat this sequence 3-5 times.

2) Nod of Approval: Look up on a high diagonal, but not directly at the ceiling, allowing your head to follow. Look down to tuck in your chin. Circle your head one way around. Repeat this sequence the other way. Do this 3-5 more times.

Please those Knees

In the thick of this rainy season, many of us start to feel tenderness and pain in our knees. Let alone the fact that your knees carry the weight of the hips, torso and upper body, mothers also have to carry the weight of their children. So please those knees, by practicing these non-weight bearing exercises.

1) Adding oil to the Knees: Either remain seated on a chair, or roll out a mat and bring yourself to the floor to sit up with your legs straight out on the mat. If you are on a mat, place a yoga block or a rolled up towel under one knee. Extend the leg and then relax. If you are sitting in a chair, then keep both feet flat on the floor and extend one leg and then relax. Repeat this 3-5 times and then change over to the other side.

Adore your Ankles

It’s important to keep those ankles strong, stable and healthy, especially if you’re a mommy in stilettos. Aside from treating yourself to a chic new pair of heels, remember to also adore your ankles by working on your ankle strength and stability.

1) Ballet Toes: Extend one leg straight in front of you if you are seated on a chair. If your are seated on a mat, extend both legs in front of you. Flex your feet, pressing energy out the heels. Pointe your feet, lengthening under the toes. Repeat this 3-5 times. If pointing and flexing one foot at a time, make sure to do both sides!

2) Ankle Waves: Return to your extended leg position, and flex your foot. Wave your foot inwards towards your center and then wave your foot outwards away from your center, creating a slight scooping action. Repeat this 3-5 times on both sides.

3) From your extended leg position, flex your feet and circle one ankle slowly three times in one direction and repeat the same with the other ankle. Make sure to circle your ankles in the other direction as well! too!

Now that you’re ready to slay the day, enjoy the treats that come your way, whether it’s a bouquet of flowers, a coupon book of hugs, or just spending quality time with your loved ones. On that note, we here at Hong Kong Dance Moms wish you all a Happy Mother’s Day!

Venue: Twinkle Dance Company

Instructor: Abigail de Waal