Lately I've been noticing more and more how much older I am getting...and I'm only 22 years old. The first sign came the other day when our jazz professor put on an Alanis Morissette song for stretching and over three quarters of the room had no idea who she was...
Aside from these youngin's lack of musical education, and I myself am no guru, I've noticed how my body needs that extra time to prepare for class. I've become that student that shows up early, takes time to warm-up before the warm-up because I know something will hurt otherwise. Oh, and things hurt.
*Side note: Switch second leaps were created for rubber band people...**
It's not that I don't care of my body, eat the right things and get plenty of sleep...well, that last part I try to get as much as my schedule will allow. I just can't whip down into the splits first thing in the morning any more. What kills me is watching some of the undergrads waltz into class couple minutes before barre or jazz class, complain of tight muscles and whomp! They pop down into a full on straddle! What in the world!?
Part of me wants to let the kiddos know that they are not as old as they think--wasted breath really since not a one of them will believe me. Heck, I never believed those older dancers when they said that same thing to me. Truly it's a bit shocking how my body is not as limber as it used to be when I'm really not that old.
On an upside to this "aging" part of my career, I'm learning how to better prepare my body for class. I'm learning how to allow my body time to ease into stretches, focusing on the strengthening aspect of each movement rather than just holding a pose for minutes on end. I'm the girl that comes in with layers to keep my muscles warm, slowly peeling each one off over the course of a 45 minute center technique development sequence to stay good and warm . Focus on breath and visualizing where its going in my body has helped immensely for me as well.
Overall I'm approaching my classes, warm-ups, exercises with a more mature eye than I ever have before. It's been a gradual change over the last four years, but I've finally come to appreciate taking that time for my body. I look at that time as self-indulgent, relishing in every stretch I can take because I now know that later down the line, I'll be saving myself from some major muscle aches and possible injuries down the way.
For all you dancers, what are some stretches or warm-up rituals that you do to get ready for a class? Are they physical movements or mental reminders? I'd love to pass the knowledge on to my students now and in the future!