Monday, 17 December 2012

Practice Makes Perfect

I have to confess, not only has regular blogging slipped a bit lately - so has my regular dance practice routine. You know how it is - new job, Christmas coming up, a rediscovered addiction to reading approximately one book a night (blame the new job for that) .... it happens to most of us unless we're super-disciplined. And super-discipline is a work in progress as far as I'm concerned!

I'm not saying I don't dance at all. On the contrary. as well as Sakura practices (OK, I know girls!) I teach a weekly class now and so always make sure I'm practising moves, breaking them down and dancing them through for that. But what I'm talking about here is regular practice FOR ME, designed to focus on my own needs and dance goals. That's the bit that's become a bit hazy over recent weeks. And as we're nearly at the end of 2012 (eek!) and into a new year, it seems like an ideal time to reinvigorate myself. With that in mind, I've been reflecting, journaling and trawling the internet for practice tips to give myself a bit of a turbo-boost into 2013.

And I've found just the site to do it! It's been in my 'Favourites' for a while because I just knew that the time would come when it would be just what I needed. And that time is now! The site is Belly Dance Somerville and whilst it's not a tribal site it has some really, really useful articles on practising ......

Firstly, down to the nitty gritty. Is practice important? As Nadira, whose site it is says, 'It depends on what you want to accomplish'. If all you are doing is one hour of dance class a week, then your progress is going to be slow (remember learning to drive and how hard it was if you only had one lesson a week with nothing extra in between? I do!). How much you need to practise will depend on what your dance goals are - read Nadira's thoughts on that right here! I would just add one thing to this - if you are wanting to perform with your class or with a troupe then you do actually need to make that practice commitment that Nadira recommends - you are part of a team and you need to make sure that you put in the effort to reflect that!


I'm going to leave the next bit to Nadira! It really doesn't matter how much you practise if you don't have a relevant focus. That needs to be appropriate to WHY you are practising - maybe you dance choreo and are preparing for a specific event, maybe there are certain moves that are your current area for development and so on. take some time to reflect on your goals, and use your practice time to work towards them. And don't fall into the Cayte Trap. What's the Cayte Trap you may ask? Well, it's when you KNOW there are certain things you need to work on, but you find them hard. So what do you do? You start your practice with stuff you CAN do pretty well - you tell yourself it will get you in the mood for the more difficult stuff - and hey? Guess what? Before you know it you're nearly out of practice time and you've only a couple of minutes to practise that stuff you REALLY needed to work on. Don't do it folks. I've been there. I know!!! Anyway, you'll find Nadira's thoughts on how to practise here.


Now, at this point some of you may be squealing at the computer screen 'But I don't have tiiiiiime to practise'! There are still things you can do!!! Nadira has ideas here for how to structure quick five minute practices - for those days when you just don't have time for more! (I really like the way she emphasises a quick warm up even in those circumstances). But there are other ways of working practices in to your daily routine too - belly rolls whilst you brush your teeth. mayas whilst you wait for the kettle to boil, ghawazees round the supermarket (My favourite. And these have the added bonus of providing free entertainment for staff and other shoppers!!). Where there's a will there's always a way.

So, will a more focused, regular practice routine be one of the things you resolve to get going on once the Christmas festivities are over? If so, start to think about it now! Nadira even suggests drawing up a ready-made plan for those emergenct five minute practice sessions so that you're straight into it with no prevaricating! Similarly make sure you've got music, a structure and some goals worked out ready for longer practices. And above all, try to ENJOY it! Use music you love, reward all that drilling with some improv to a really funky track at the end, make it fun! It's all working towards making you the very best dancer that you can be!

Until next time - Happy Dancing!!

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