Tips

Cultivating Creativity at Home: How to Incorporate Dance at Home

It can be so easy to get sucked into a routine of school, family or work that we sometimes forget to step into the outside world and see the breath of life that stands before us. One of the many beauties of the arts is that it interweaves throughout all aspects of life, and whether or not it’s obvious, it is always there. Creativity is such an important part of being human, it allows us to communicate and express ourselves in a way that is truly authentic.

Aside from engaging in hobbies, sports, tutoring and recreational activities, there should always be time set aside for cultivating creativity. Bringing creativity into the home is great for nurturing young artists and shaping innovative personalities. It also gets us to disconnect from social media, and connect to the people in front of us, bringing life into our humble abodes. We are sharing some of our favourite ways of bringing dance and the arts into your home.

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 It can be hard to juggle textbook subjects while pursuing creative activities and the arts. Even though most school curriculums do incorporate the arts, there’s no reason that we can’t make homework more flavourful. Why not create a dance routine, some doodling illustrations, a beat boxin’ rap, or a song as a study tool. Spend a weekend afternoon personalising a journal or a notebook with some sharpie markers and stickers. Language courses with novels and storybooks provide the perfect scripts for creating an at home theatre play or a living room dance production. For those busy bees studying the day away, there are plenty of ways to work hard, play hard, and create art!

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Every young dancer knows what it takes to achieve their dreams of starring on stage, and it requires them to practice at home. There are plenty of opportunities in which parents can let their children become the teacher. Turn the living room into a dance studio by clearing up some space. One of the best ways to fully understand the physicality and artistry of dance is by allowing your young dancers to teach you what they’ve learned. Whether these young dancers are teaching their siblings, parents, or grandparents, there is so much we can learn from one another simply through our body language.

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 Living in the age of technology and with access to instant communication through our mobile phones, there are so many ways to get creative. The cameras on our mobile phones are a simple and quick way to capture the intersection of life and art. Children can create a storyboard of a music video or a fairytale dance video, and then recruit their friends and siblings as their film crew. Build a team of actors, dancers, videographers, and directors, but don’t forget to pick a location, costumes, and music. There are lots of choices when it comes to easy and accessible film editing software such as iMovie. Once the film is ready for the big screen (or the medium sized at-home screen), roll out the red carpet as these Oscar winners in-the-making premiere their masterpiece. Don’t forget that these creative projects will also build the beginnings of an artist’s most treasured memories.

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Family game night is all about creativity, not to mention it’s a great way to bring the family together and enjoy each other’s company. Drop by your local game shop and pick up a couple of board games. You can also check out our list of fun dance games in our article, Family Game Night: Dance Edition.

Creativity is infinite, and remember that your options for bringing a spark of innovation and artistry into the house are endless.

Photo Credits: Nuno Alberto, Rachel, IIONA VIRGIN, Tanaphong Toochinda, and Robert Collins on Unsplash

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

 

BEYONCÉ BLESSED HAIRDOS: DIVA INSPIRED HAIRSTYLES FOR DANCE CLASS

You gotta own that dance floor with both your moves and your stylin’ looks! Whether you need to shake your hair loose in dance class, or twirl around with a tight and taut updo, we’ve got some fun and fierce looks for you! Jazz up your next dance class with these awesome hairstyles inspired by some of our favourite divas!


Bunhead Beyoncé

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We all know that the Queen B is both a master at singing and dancing, and though ballet may not be her forte, she’s got the perfect braided bun that’ll keep those baby hairs out of your way when executing those triple pirouettes!

Jazzy JLo

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Jenny from the block is no stranger to the stage, and she raises the bar of ‘showwomanship’ with her showstopping dance moves. Stay one step ahead of the competition, with this sleek and chic fishtail ponybraid.

Hip with Hailee

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Bring a bounce to your hip hop dance steps with this curly half-up half-down ponytail. Hailee Steinfeld always gives it her all, from being an Oscar nominated actress to an MTV Europe Music Awards nominated singer, she flaunts her look with impeccable class and style.


Zesty like Zendaya

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Full of life and energy, film star Zendaya is known for her astonishing looks and skilful dance moves. Pull off this Gatsby-esque hairdo at your next tango and ballroom dance rendezvous. Make sure you have plenty of hair gel, a fine tooth hair comb, and bobby pins to execute this suave updo. 

Be spontaneous and change up your look in dance class! From a new vibrant leotard to some new krumping pumps, it doesn’t always have to be a big change, there’s always of room for creativity, style and fun in dance!

Photo Credits:  Max Vadukul, Getty Images/Gregg DeGuire, Chris Appleton, Getty Images/C Flanigan, Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images North America

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

 

What’s in a Contemporary Dancer’s Bag? With the National Dance Company Wales

People often look up to big name singers, athletes, and movie stars, but for every young aspiring dancer out there, it’s a different story. Looking up to professional dancers, renowned choreographers, and dancing legends, these are our idols. Besides our interest in a professional dancer’s training routine and performances, we’re also curious about the little things, like a professional dancer’s favourite warm-up tune, or even what’s inside a dancer’s bag!

Unzipping our most burning questions for the dancer-on-the-go, Hong Kong Dance Moms (HKDM) sat down with three of the company dancers from the National Dance Company Wales while they were on tour in Hong Kong as part of ArtisTree Selects: Moving Pieces. Sporting our exclusive HKDM dance bags, dancers Cyril Durand-Gasselin, Marine Tournet and Julia Rieder gave us an inside look into their dance bags, sharing their invaluable rehearsal, performance and preparation tips! 


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Cyril Durand-Gasselin

Greeting us with a warm and friendly smile was Cyril Durand-Gasselin, who has been a full-time dancer with the company since 2017. Having recently performed in the National Dance Company Wales’ Double-Bill Performance in Hong Kong, Cyril moves with flawless precision and a presence that can fill an entire stage. From discussing his own supplemental dance training to advocating hydration, Cyril gave us some insightful tips.

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What do you put in your dance bag for a rehearsal? And for a performance?

C.DG.: “For rehearsal, of course my dance clothes, just because I like to wear city clothes when I’m outside. I have my bottle of water, it’s really important. I have knee pads, it’s not the protective ones. I mean I could have this, but it’s in case during the day you have a weak knee, it can be really useful to use it.

I have a notebook that’s really important in the creative process, or during rehearsal, if I need to take notes or just find ideas for myself. I have two tennis balls in socks for massaging. I also have a cereal bar, because of course during the day you need some time to get energy back if you’re feeling a bit tired. 

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I have my headphones which is useful if you just want to have a moment for yourself to listen to music without disturbing anyone. Or if during a rehearsal, I’m asked to work on something on my own, I’ll use my headphones on the side to work on my section in the piece of choreography. I have my glasses, but I wear contact lens because it’s really hard to dance with glasses. There is some paracetamol in case I have a headache, though I just need to make sure that I don’t take it before I go and dance, because when you have pain in your body it’s better to feel it so that you don’t get injured more. For performance, I have my jock strap and my makeup, and that’s the only difference”.

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What’s the one item in your bag that you could not live without, and why?

C.DG.: “It’s my bottle of water, because I think it’s really important. You always need to drink water”. 

What’s your best packing hack for when you are travelling on tour?

C.DG.: “I wouldn’t say I have a specific one, I just fold my clothes correctly and I try to put my pants on the side, and all the t-shirts on the other side. And in the center, all my makeup and toiletries. And because I like to do yoga, I’ll put my yoga mat in there which is quite hard to fit, but when placed lengthwise it works!”

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What advice do you have for those who want to be a professional dancer?

C.DG.: “My best advice would be to take care of your body, because this is the tool you’ll use all your life if you want to be a dancer. So it’s really important to eat healthy and drink a lot of water. But also to think physically about balancing the body. For example, when doing a certain choreographic movement, most of the time you won’t do right and left. So you end up working one side of the body more than the other. Before or after class, stretch or do some strengthening to get the body balanced. I’m using yoga for example, so I think yoga is a really nice tool to do that and to centre and balance the body”.


Marine

Marine Tournet

A freelance dancer and former full-time dancer with the company, Marine Tournet’s humble, kind and optimistic comportment was absolutely contagious! Creating disjunct movements with her body, Marine’s movement style has an utterly unique and inspirational flair. Highlighting the importance of having a healthy and positive mind in dance, Marine gave us her personal life mantras that have taken her far in her dance career.

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What do you put in your dance bag for a rehearsal? And for a performance?

M.T.: “For rehearsal, I always have deodorant because it’s important. Also in the U.K., it’s always important to have an umbrella and tissues as well. I always take this little towel to wipe up the sweat after class or during rehearsal. I have this pouch of medicine, and tiger balm incase I injure myself or if I am sore. This is a foot roller to massage the feet either before or after rehearsal. This is a theraband to stretch or exercise the legs, depending on what you need. I have an extra t-shirt in case I’m too sweaty and need to change, and also a pair of shorts and a pair of trousers. Depending on the work we do, I need to change sometimes. This is a foam roller, usually I just leave it in the company studio, so I don’t need to bring it everyday. But it’s really nice to roll over the muscles, the legs and the back. 

And I always have my ipod with me, I don’t actually use it when we rehearse like some people do to warm-up. I actually use it more for auditions to focus on myself and be in my bubble and centre. But for a normal warm-up in the company, I don’t really use it. 

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I always have my water bottle, it’s very important. For a performance, the only difference would be bringing my makeup and hair kit. I also bring my warm-up shoes to wear between rehearsals and the show, and in the evening I will wear them to keep my feet warm”.

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What’s the one item in your bag that you could not live without, and why?

M.T.: “I think it would be my hairbands, because it would be a problem if I didn’t have any!”


What’s your best packing hack for when you are travelling on tour?

M.T.: “I would like to have one, because I don’t have one. I just squish everything into my luggage and sit on it”.

Marine’s Take Care Tip: To help dancers with any pain or soreness, Marine recommends macadamia oil mixed with a few drops of wintergreen essential oil.

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What advice do you have for those who want to be a professional dancer?

M.T.: “To always be positive. Even when you go through a hard time, especially if you get injured, you can get depressed very easily. Especially if you see your friends who keep dancing, and you come to class to watch them on the side. It can be a very hard time, but just know that it is going to go away soon and you’ll recover. And you can learn a lot through watching as well, so it’s important to watch. 

Be a sponge. Whenever the teacher gives a correction, even if it’s not for you, just always take it for yourself as if it was for you, because that’s how you learn. Just keep watching everyone, and taking everyone’s corrections

Watch videos! I spent my life watching videos on Youtube when I was younger and wanted to be a dancer. I watched a lot of ballet videos, because I wanted to be a ballet dancer. I just watched a lot of things and went to see shows, to learn about the dance world outside; all the choreographers, all the styles, it’s very important to know and learn about everything. 

Be curious, even if it’s not dance related, it will always be beneficial to maybe learn about acting or martial arts or music… or anything! You will find out later that it can relate to dance in a way that you didn’t know before. So stay curious and learn! Be generous, be yourself and be honest with yourself and with the people around you. The only competition is with yourself, it’s not with the others. Believe in yourself, and trust your body and its knowledge. Trust your body, because it knows if you can keep pushing or not. Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and work with them intelligently”.


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Julia Rieder

Having danced full-time with NDCWales for the last two years, Julia Rieder creates a serene atmosphere with her poise, maturity, and sweet smile. Moving fluidly as though submerged in water, Julia dances with such tranquility, clarity and flow. Creating a checklist of things to bring in our dance bag may be one thing, but Julia sheds light on the most important thing to bring to rehearsal, an open mind and body.

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What do you put in your dance bag for a rehearsal? And for a performance?

J.R.: “In my dance bag, I’ll never go to class without my water bottle. A reusable one, not plastic. I have tennis balls for massage. I have some tiger balm to heat the muscles. And for class, I bring a little snack for breaks. And then the essentials, some tissue, some plasters. I have a little pocket where I put all the urgent stuff. Some hair pins, phone, headphones, charger, and knee pads just in case we do lots of floorwork”.

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What’s the one item in your bag that you could not live without, and why?

J.R.: “I’d probably say water or a snack. Just because you couldn’t go even half a day without fuel”.


What’s your best packing hack for when you are travelling on tour?

J.R.: “I usually roll my clothes to make more space in my luggage. It’s quite basic, just monitor the amount of dance clothes you need for class as well as some change of clothes because you will sweat a lot. But the usual things, and some city clothes as well just in case we visit some sites and do not want to look too casual”.

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What advice do you have for those who want to be a professional dancer?

J.R.: “It’s lots of hard work, but don’t overthink too much because a lot can happen by luck. It takes some luck to do everything you wish for. 

Just enjoy the ride, because there are so many occasions to connect with people and great audiences as well. Enjoy every night, and take what’s there for you as if it were the last time. 

It makes your day full. And staying open and balanced”.

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So now that the NDCWales has created the ultimate checklist for your next dance bag packing mission, be sure to pass on the torch and let the next generation of dancers know about your own personal life hacks in dance! Until next time, that’s a zip!

A Special Thanks to the National Dance Company Wales and ArtisTree!