Rehearsal Ready: Simple Steps to Prep Your Mind and Body
Rehearsals for any kind of dance performance are often mentally and physically demanding. You might be in the studio for several hours a day, for days, weeks or even months, learning and perfecting choreography. It’s important to go into this intense environment well prepared, so that you can give it your all, and look after yourself in the process. Read on for some simple ways to ensure you are rehearsal-ready in the lead up to your next big performance.
The rehearsal process tends to be time-sensitive. Sometimes you will be taken through a warm-up, but often the nature of the rehearsal (and the need to press on with choreography or cleaning) means there simply isn’t enough time. Try to arrive early enough to take yourself through your own warm-up exercises, so that you know as soon as rehearsal starts, you’re ready to go. Avoid rushing through ballistic exercises and instead focus on engaging your muscles with slow, lengthening stretches, and resistance work with a Theraband. Allow yourself plenty of time to warm up slowly and you’ll give yourself the best chance of making it through the rehearsal without injury.
When rehearsals are underway, new steps, sequences and ideas are thrown around at a fast-pace, as well as corrections and changes to existing choreography. If you aren’t focused, you won’t be able to retain the information required, so getting into the right headspace is essential. Take a few moments after your physical warm-up to breathe and engage your mind. Find a spot to lie down, eyes closed, and concentrate on your breathing. You can count as you inhale and exhale if it helps. Try to forget any outside pressures or stresses and focus on clearing your mind ready for a great rehearsal.
Once again, the fast pace of most rehearsals can have an impact on how you take on information. It can be really helpful to come prepared with a notebook to jot down anything important. This could be anything from noting down actual steps and sequences, to blocking patterns and staging cues. You’ll appreciate being able to check your notes at a later date when you’re unsure of something or you’re going over your choreography alone. It also shows your cast and rehearsal directors that you’re taking things seriously.
When you’re going over a new sequence of steps, always mark it through with your body instead of just in your head. This will assist with muscle memory – repetition is key. In addition to marking your steps when you're actually in a rehearsal, it’s also really helpful to go through your steps before you go to sleep and when you wake up in the morning, after your body has had a bit of a break. A clean and accurate mark will really help ensure you’re on top of your movements. Just make sure you dance full out when you need to!
Dress the part
Make sure that whatever you wear to rehearsal is suited to what you’re doing. Rehearsals often last for hours, so you need to choose something that will keep you cool and dry over a lengthy sweat session. A compression technology fabric like ProForm Ultra™is perfect - it actively assists blood flow to promote muscle recovery throughout the day, as well as wicking moisture from the skin. Finally, you need to wear comfortable, supportive shoes. If you dance for hours in bare feet or uncomfortable, ill-fitting shoes, you could end up with painful blisters or even an ankle injury. Select a shoe that makes your feet look and feel great, like the stunning Révélation Mesh Split Sole Ballet Shoes pictured on Maeve, so you can focus solely on your dancing.
Finally, the best way to get through a tough rehearsal is to think about the end goal. The thrill of performing is something many dancers live for, so embrace the hard work that goes into getting to that point. Enjoy every moment of the rehearsal process, and it will be fun and rewarding for you and all the other dancers in the room.
Article by Emily Newton-Smith
Photography by Elly Ford