Lessons from my past life.
Today I was looking through Facebook and finding old friends from my figure skating days, which led me to the website of the rink in Redwood City, California, that I called home for more than 10 years. I realized that so much of my figure skating experience helps me today as a belly dancer. I grew up as a performer and as an athlete, and there are things I’ve learned through skating that I sometimes take for granted. But the skills that I learned as a skater are invaluable.
Here’s a laundry list of things that I learned as a skater that I still use as a dancer.
- Always practice the basics. You can’t land a double Axel without being able to land a clean single Axel. (Just as you won’t be able to layer chest locks over alternating glute squeezes if your glute squeezes aren’t clean.)
- Your costume should reflect your music and the mood of your performance.
- Know where the judges and the audience are sitting. Play to them.
- Respect your coaches’ knowledge, wisdom, and experience.
- You will have good practice sessions and terrible ones. Both are par for the course.
- SMILE! (We would yell this out to whoever was taking the ice at a competition, and inevitably, doing so would make them smile.)
- Wear more make-up for a performance/competition than you think is necessary.
- Make sure your hair is secured before taking the ice (or the stage).
- Always warm-up and stretch. In that order.
- Quality equipment is expensive and worth the money.
- Don’t be afraid to fall (literally and metaphorically).
- Be an example for new and younger skaters.
- Choreography and improvisation are equally valuable.
- Be patient with your progress. You won’t be able to accomplish every move right away; some things will take longer to achieve than others.
- Be aware of your personal space lest you run down a fellow skater (or dancer in the studio).
- Never become complacent with your progress.
- Buy and watch the videos of your performances. The camera doesn’t lie.
- Gimmicks may get you a medal, but technique and skill are far more valuable.
- Be nice to your fellow skaters. Cattiness and backstabbing will only bring you a bad reputation.
- Bend your knees and tuck your pelvis.
- Remember to have fun.
Do any of you have “past lives” that help you as a belly dancer? What about those experiences do you use today?