The Grace of a Swan: Like a swan who glides effortlessly across the water, hiding the rapidly paddling feet under the surface, having the ability to appear calm and at ease is an essential skill of any dancer. To master this, you simply need to breathe! Using the diaphragm to inhale deeply and slowly into the bottom of the lungs and then controlling a smooth and steady exhale will calm the nerves, release tension across the whole body, and after a few breaths you’ll look ready to waltz with Bruno or Darcey.
Posture: Sitting up straight sounds so simple but we all have the habit of slumping or slouching. Taking time to do a few slow shoulder shrugs and shoulder rolls several times through your day will bring your attention to where you’re holding tension in your back/neck/shoulders and where you can let it go. The movement encourages blood flow and stimulates the respiratory system too keeping you alert. Before you know it, you will have that length through the spine that the judges often remark on.
Release Tension: We all hold tension and as we go through the day. We flinch and frown and shrink and shrug in response to what is going on around us. If we don’t release these reflexes, they show up in our wrinkles, tight shoulders, headaches and back aches. Noticing where you are holding yourself in a contracted position and then noticing where you are able to release tension will improve your poise. Habitual tension ends up manifesting as hunched shoulders, tight hips and ultimately pain. This can be reduced and reversed with simple movement practices that focus on controlling functional movement.
Smile: Dancers are great at putting on a show and making you want to smile and dance along with them. Did you know that if you smile for just 8 seconds you can trick your brain into thinking you’re happy! The feedback loop in the brain says, “I’m happy therefore I smile, and I smile therefore I’m happy!” and after a short period of time it isn’t sure which one happened first, and the happy hormones get released anyway! So if you’re not feeling all that elegant and charming, then fake it ‘til you make it!!