Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Structuring Your Practice

Ruth St. Denis in the Cobras, New York Public Library
Now that you've figured out how much time you have to spend on dance practice, what do you do with that time? What's the best use of it, and how can you make sure you get in all the practice you need?

Fifteen Minutes
If all you've got is fifteen minutes, then it's drill, baby, drill! Make sure you warm up first, so do a minute of jumping jacks or jump rope or something to get your blood flowing. Then pick three short drills. For instance, maybe you can do 3/4 shimmies, chest lifts, and head slides. Put on your favorite music, and drill for about fifteen minutes. Then cool down by stretching out for a minute or two after.

Thirty Minutes
Thirty minutes gives you a little bit more time. Spend longer warming up, about five minutes. You can drill here, and you can even practice combos. Or, if you're getting ready for a show, just dance out your music for half your practice time. Thirty minutes give you plenty of time to throw in a couple of drills and then experiment a little. Finish up with five minutes of stretching.

Forty-Five Minutes
You've got forty-five minutes! What's a technique you've been wanting to learn or practice? Start with a five-minute warm-up, then drill your basis for about ten minutes. Then you can dedicate a solid chunk of time to working on a specific technique.  Fifteen or twenty minutes, and make sure you don't over-do it. Then you can throw in a couple of creative things, maybe put on a song you've wanted to solo with and see how your body responds. Finish with a nice long cool down and stretch out your muscles--you'll need it.

One Hour or More
If you have an hour or more, you can really spend some time in the warmup and cool down. If you're a yogi, do a couple of yoga stretches to warm up your muscles. Some sun salutations will get you all ready to go. If you can't tell your downward dog from your cat pose, then some jumping junks, lunges, pushups, and squats will get your muscles nice and warm, and will help you build strength. Once you're all warmed up, you'll want to keep things interesting. Drill for about twenty minutes, then switch to technique, then go to creative, then maybe go back to drilling. Or, if you have a bellydance technique video, put that on and do some of the exercises. You can even try to learn something new by watching YouTube videos or performances. When you're out of time, do a nice yoga cool down. You've been working hard, and you'll want to avoid any soreness the following day.

No matter how little time you've got to practice belly dance, you always have time to do something. Now you have no excuse to not practice, so figure out how much time you've got, and get out there and dance!

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