2021 is here and again even with the uncertainty that is still surrounding the world, we have all gotten off to a pretty good start, especially here in South Australia.
For many people at the moment the thought of a competition, or being competition ready seems very far from their minds, but the ability to prepare and be ready for a comp is not something you do a week before when you know an event is definitely not going to be postponed. To be physically ready and have the endurance to last any competition, big or small, it takes a plan and a mentality which I think needs to be highlighted.
First and foremost, your physical well being is the key. I know people get very annoyed when they hear people talk about appearance etc. however when you step on the floor as a couple you are a product of your hard work. No one knows how many hours of practice you’ve done; no one knows if you go to the gym and run 20kms a day. The fact is, those 10 minutes you are on the floor, they are your benchmark. Scary in a way, but realistic. It's just like an Olympic runner who trains for 4 years for that one hurdle event. If you want from the moment you step onto that dance floor to the moment you take your last bow, to be at peak endurance and maximum capability, then you need to be physically fit! The common saying, “I died in jive”… “I gave too much in the first 2 dances and then I had nothing left in the tank”. At the end of the day, this is a lack of preparation and physical preparation and it is also a lack of experience as to what is needed for endurance on the floor. To perform at your best for 5 dances straight in front of an audience and judges.
The physical and cardio form can be trained in many different ways (not just a fortnight before the competition). Yes, any form of cardio is good however you can be smart. Do it in interval training just like we perform our dances. 2 minutes of running, 30-second break … 2 mins running … etc. Push yourself! If you can only run 4 minutes, try to get to 5 minutes the next day. Other things that I find are great for cardio are Yoga and Pilates. You may laugh as you are not jumping around like a crazy loon doing this, but exercises in Yoga and Pilates lift your heart rate whilst also toning, strengthening and stretching your body.
I think when we talk about endurance and lasting a final there is a very important fact. As an experienced dancer, you need to understand the amount of energy that needs to be put into every step! It’s a long 10 minutes a final and you need to make sure you are not wasting energy. I’m not saying conserve or be careful, I’m saying, know the energy you are producing/selling/dancing. Eg. At the start of your samba when you do 3 promenade runs, why are you aiming at reaching the other end of the room? Show the quality and a calmness about a step which travels you anyway. The funny thing is, people, burn the most energy trying to cover distance, on steps which are already designed to move. Ironic isn’t it?!?!
The last thing which I want to highlight is something that can always play tricks on us …. Our brain! There is always a point when you are fatiguing on the floor especially if you have done numerous rounds in a day. However (and this is linked to physical well being too) if your mind is fresh because your body is fresh, you will be able to finish that jive! If doubts start to creep in, then you are already fighting an uphill battle. Again this negativity will creep in if you know you haven’t gotten yourself ready as you should, but you are in control of that. So be ready!
The list on this subject could go on forever and very detailed too, but the main aspects which I wanted to highlight are …
- Physical well being
- Understanding the energies of each step
- Mental discipline
A little word of advice to finish …. If you do feel like you are done when the jive music has stopped and you are taking your bow to walk off the floor, DON’T SHOW IT! You must keep in your zone/performance until you are well off the floor and out of sight. Then if you need to collapse it's up to you lol. But never forget your role, from when you walk on that floor to when you walk off.
Fingers crossed this year we will be able to have many more of these experiences again …. Let’s hope