How to keep yourself in a dance mindset over Christmas and New Year

Monday 20th December 2021

Christmas is of course about spending time with loved ones and getting in the festive spirit, but as dancers we also need to make sure we are keeping our dance mindset.
It is important to keep yourself flexible and strong. This is what the pro dancers do and the habit you should be getting into. Unfortunately you can quickly lose what you have worked so hard to gain, and you have worked SO hard, it would be a shame to take a step back.
Some basic stretches and exercises (examples of which are below) is all you need to do in between term times.
Rest is also important for the body. Allowing yourself time to recuperate is just as important as keeping flexible during the holidays. Find a nice balance between the two and you will be ready for the new term in January!
Keeping in the dance mindset is not just about keeping your form in top condition. We also need to keep our minds learning about our industry. There is always so much to learn, you can never know too much! Keep an eye out for some beautiful ballets, films and performances on TV over the Christmas period; a perfect opportunity to see the professionals in action, but also learn about the composers of the music, the writers and choreographers. All this information is beneficial for a dancer who wants to go into the industry as they get older.
You may even be lucky enough to visit the theatre! If you are planning a trip over the festive period there are some amazing performances out there and we would love to hear all about it!

We have compiled a list of some of the films and documentaries that you can stream right now!

The Nutcracker (Netflix) - A classic!
On Pointe (Disney+) - This is a documentary showing the students of the American Ballet going through their training, auditions and go they prepare for their performances.
Into the Beat (Netflix) - (12) - A teenage ballerina discovers the world of Hip Hop dancing and is faced with a decision on which passion to follow
We Speak Dance (Netflix) (15) - This is a documentary about a trained dancer who travels the world to learn traditional and urban dance styles from local experts
Move (Netflix) (15) - Watch the dancers and choreographers who are shaping the art of movement around the world.

Some basic stretches and exercises; (taken from The Stretch Coach)
• Rotating Hip and Stomach Stretch: Lie face down and bring your hands close to your shoulders. Keep your hips on the ground, look forward and rise up by straightening your arms. Then slowly bend one arm and rotate that shoulder towards the ground.
• Standing High-leg Bent Knee Hamstring Stretch: Stand with one foot raised onto a table. Keep your leg bent and lean your chest into your bent knee.
• Kneeling Heel-down Calf and Achilles Stretch: Kneel on one foot and place your body weight over your knee. Keep your heel on the ground and lean forward.

Exercises you can do are;
Focus strengthening your core muscles. These are the foundation muscles that engage other muscles in your body like the leg muscle groups. You can incorporate some planks and lie down leg crunches into your stretching.
The feet are of course a vital body part we need to look after as dancers. (As well as maybe pampering yourself over Christmas with a foot rub or pedicure) you also need to look after those metatarsals, insteps and arches. Practicing slow rises on the demi pointe and raising one leg will help keep your toes in alignment.
Don't forget to cool down after stretching and exercising. This is an important part as it helps the muscles to recover. Using a roller ball over tight muscles will help prevent injury.

If you have any questions about how to keep yourself moving and maintain your dance mindset over Christmas please don't hesitate to speak to your teacher and we will be happy to guide you.

We cannot wait for the new term to start. Plenty to look forward to in 2022.

We hope you all have a very very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at MSAOD.