Last night’s dance class in the hot, hot studio has me concluding one thing: it’s time to get new dance clothes. The longish yoga pants I wear are no longer working, at least in this weather. We had air conditioning, somewhat, yesterday, but it was only running about an hour prior to dance class beginning. The studio was barely tolerable, which made me realize I should probably get some dance shorts. I have considered a dance/workout wardrobe for 4 seasons before, but the weather has simply been too intolerable in Boston lately.

Bharatanatyam, however, I’m unfortunately going to have literally sweat that one out. We’re expected to wear the tunics and proper pants (not shorts; a girl was scolded once for wearing shorts), despite the heat. Our teacher tries to take it easier on us when it’s hot, but on hot days, I leave class dripping with sweat and I don’t normally sweat that much.

Despite the summer’s unusual (this, as far as I understand, is highly unusual for Boston) heat, I’ve still been trying to fit in practicing and keeping up with my normal dance stuff. However, without air conditioning (thank goodness for living garden level!), it makes things a bit more difficult. Lethargy has set in in my apartment, from me to the cats. If anyone has any good tips to keep up the work ethic in this heat, I’d be game to hear them.

I realized today that my summer will largely be themed by dance. Working through the intensive dance practices has taught me some critical things. Namely, I need to practice. Learning choreography is not my strong suit; I haven’t had to memorize a choreography in a really long time (years), and my choreography experiences have been very limited; I learned maybe 2 choreographies and only had to perform one of them. I’ve never had troupe experience, either, so Meiver’s intensive is quite an experience for me.

The Bharatanatyam choreography we learned is almost finished. Polishing needs to be done, but I feel very confident in that one, especially now that I’ve been listening to the music regularly. Listening to the music was an interesting experience, because I realized how perfectly things fit together. We’re moving on to learn another choreography, however. I’m a bit behind with this class (really, both classes) because of my trip to Montreal. I’m hoping that some good ol’ fashion practicing will make things better.

By sort of, I mean I’m going to try to maintain a constant practice. Keeping myself motivated to practice that much daily was difficult. I skirted it a few times (practicing mudras instead of really dancing), but I think I overall did a good job of maintaining a practice.

I discovered that I can’t be terribly structured with my practice, like plan it out weeks in advance. I do best when I make decisions that day.

My body is physically stronger and a bit more flexible. I feel less stress after practicing, despite having to find a summer job, and I have managed to stave off some illnesses with exercise. All good things.

What would be most helpful in maintaining my practice would be having something to work towards, like a performance. While I don’t believe performance is the end all, be all purpose for dancing, I realize I was practicing diligently before the Halfi for Haiti or that I practice the choreography for Bharatanatyam because there will be a performance.

Dedicating myself to dance definitely helped improve my dance and gain further insight into where I am and what I need to work on.

My professional and dance life have been quite hectic lately. My professional life- well, soon I’ll reveal some news that has been good (it changes my plans for next semester), but it has been a little stressful. The waiting game. I have also been busy with getting things squared away from midterms. The midterm grades are due next week, right before spring break.

This weekend is shot, because I’m going away to the Ranya workshop in RI and performing at the Hafli for Haiti. I’ve been practicing my dancing. I forgot how  much fun it is just to dance. Technique has been easy to practice. It requires a very black and white (at least to me) set of thinking. Your hands, posture, etc. need to be positioned in a certain way. In my opinion, it is more rigid than dancing. Listening to the music, feeling the music, choosing what moves best work is harder. There are so many possibilities! While Middle Eastern music does dictate what you do, at the same time, you have choices. There’s a vibration in the music. Some may shimmy the hips, some may shimmy the shoulders. What part of the music do you wish to highlight? Do you dance to the rhythm or the melody? When do you switch it?

I feel like I’m not a great dancer yet, but at the same time, I’m noticing signs of progress. For starters, my hands and arms aren’t as busy. I’m happy to use them as framing right now. I feel like I’m taking advantage of space more, using all directions. Maybe it isn’t perfect, but I’m still making an effort to use diagonals, sides, etc. I’m also thinking about facial expression and where my eyes and head are. Again, not perfect, but at least it’s becoming a part of my dance. Hopefully all this comes through in my dance on Sunday.

The holiday season messed with my time management to practice and really partake in the 90 Days of Dance Dedication Challenge. I began officially (at least in my brain) on Tuesday, starting back up with Middle Eastern dance. I went to ballet yesterday. What did I learn, so far, about the challenge?

  • Going to classes is easier than structuring your own practice. It’s nice to be told what to do sometimes, even though what you’re told to do makes your brain shut down.
  • Once you get started dancing, it’s hard to stop. After both dance classes, I went home to practice more. An hour and a half wasn’t enough. Strange.
  • Putting the practice on your calendar makes it harder to skip. I’m religious about keeping a calendar (mine is on my computer). I typically get everything done on my calendar, when it’s written there. I write anything on it- when I work, when I go to dance class, blog post ideas for specific dates. Strangely enough, scheduling in practice hadn’t occurred to me.

Anyone else doing a dance challenge or other kind of practice challenge? I’d love to hear how that’s working out.

Carrara Nour decided yesterday that we (or at least she)  begins her 90-day practice challenge. She started it off with a doozy- 4 hour practice. Not to be expected to be completed at once. I decided to see if I could fit in two 2-hour practices today.

First practice, consisting of drills and zills, is finished. Tiring but finished (and left me with a huge appetite). Probably the hardest thing was to think of how to fill 2 hours of practice.

Tonight’s should be easier: Combination Nation. I’ve watched it once while I was sick but now I’ll attempt it.

Anyone else partaking in this challenge?

If you follow both of us on Twitter, Carrara Nour (one of my online dance friends) and I have decided to become motivation buddies during a 90-day dance challenge. We’ll each do something for our dance, like practice, at least once day for probably an hour or so for 90 days. The reason? Being motivated to move during winter is a pain. We both are in snowy, cold places (Carrara in CT, me in Boston), where snuggling under the blankets with hot chocolate (like I’m doing now) is more attractive than practicing combos or drills.

We haven’t decided when to begin, but I’m already planning it out for myself. I’m thinking about theming my practice days.

Sundays: Drills/class stuff

Mondays: DVD practice

Tuesdays: ??

Wednesdays: Drills/class stuff

Thursdays: Veil/cane

Fridays: Improv

Saturdays: Zills

I’m still trying to think up a theme for Tuesday, though I may repeat one of the ones I’ve listed or leave it open because I’ll have class with Najmat that day. Anyone have any ideas? Or does anyone else what to participate in the challenge?