The Art of Perpetual Practice
On a previous post, Bran Mydwynter asked me about how I practice.
I touched on my practice habits a bit back in this post about the mind-body connection, but I’ll tell you a secret: I don’t go home after work and practice for hours every day. And I don’t get up before work and do an hour of yoga and then an hour of drills. Frankly, I just don’t have time. And I suspect most of you don’t have that sort of time, either.
Here’s how I practice: I hardly ever stop thinking about dance.
By this, I mean that during my work day I stretch my shoulders and arms, my hips, and back. I take a moment here, a moment there to reconnect with my body. I circle my wrists, ankles, and neck when they’re stiff.
I’m a big fan of the incremental practice. I don’t have a dance studio at home, and therefore, I don’t have a dedicated practice space. (Surprise!) Most of my practice is spent in the moments waiting for the elevator, sitting in my car on my way to and from work (excellent for glute squeezes), and in my seat at work as I listen to my performance music on my iPod over and over again. I also try to take advantage of my workplace’s exercise policy – we are allowed several hours of excused leave a week to exercise in the office building’s gym. We’re lucky enough to have an aerobics room with full-length mirrors, so I spend some time practicing there when I can get away from my desk.
And of course, I imagine myself dancing quite often. The brain is amazingly powerful in this regard, so even when I’m tired or feeling sick, I can still run through movements in my head. Mental practice, however, only really works when you know how to properly execute the physical movement. You can’t imagine yourself doing a particular movement if you don’t know how to actually DO the movement.
Also, I try to get to yoga regularly to keep up my strength, flexibility, stamina, and overall well-being.
What makes a successful practice? I’m not sure. I feel as though my practice is ongoing, perpetual, neverending. I don’t feel like there’s any end to my practice. I don’t go into the studio, practice for an hour or two, call it a day and go home.
Basically, I never forget that I am a dancer and that I need to keep in my mind in touch with my body and muscles all the time.