|My shoes are always waiting near my
portable dance floor under my couch.
Er, I mean dance studio.
I remember back in my college days having to read “A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolf in my Women’s Studies class. Her whole premise was that if women were to succeed as writers they needed to have a solid income and privacy. Obviously, for me it’s all about flamenco, so I might add that if a dancer were to succeed in the ART of flamenco (not necessarily making a living from it) she would need a solid income (outside of flamenco) and an accessible private room to practice in. It’s hard to create ART if you’re struggling to make ends meet and you have nowhere to practice.
My real concern here, though, is not from the income standpoint, but from the privacy point of view. Through the years I’ve paid at least $100 per month on studio rental for my own practice. I’ve also had my own room with a dance floor in it. (That set up ended once I had a child). Now I have a practice floor that I store under my couch in the living room.
Paying all that money for studio time is a drain, but it really is the best way for me. At home there are too many distractions… the refrigerator, the computer, and you just can’t DANCE the same way you can in the studio. In the studio, you can stretch out as far as you can, take up space and sweat.
So now I do a combination of both. I rent studio time to really sweat and train and I pull out my floor at home to try to commit to memory any choreography.
Privacy? Check. And then what?
However, going to the studio alone isn’t enough to getting better. You have to arrive there with a plan and be ready to be methodical and WORK. You need your “Solo Compas” music of some sort. If you’re working on a choreography, warm up by doing the whole thing slowly IN COMPAS, paying extra attention to lift up those heels in footwork and to suck in those abs to engage the whole core.
Then you can move on to working on any trouble spots by practicing them slowly over and over again IN COMPAS until you get them clean and they become part of your muscle memory.
Finish off by doing your whole choreography once at 50% of your energy, then again at 100%. Don’t stop if you make any mistakes. You’ll need to know how to recover from any mistakes on stage. If you still have time, do it again at 100% energy. This last time will be very difficult but it best represents what happens on stage.
If you’re not dripping with sweat and your lungs aren’t coming out of your mouth, you’re not trying hard enough! Get back in that studio and MOVE!
How do YOU work on your art?
In a very similar way. I used to share a room with fellow dancers/dance students, but they all gave up for different reasons. So I pay even more than you do, but I need this place where I can be alone for a few hours and study, otherwise I’d probably kill someone some day. (As someone who has been suffering from depression and panic attacks for years, I feel flamenco is somehow therapeutic)
Now, I first do a routine of basic steps I learned from my first teacher as a warm-up. Second, I move to more complicated things, such as an escobilla from a choreography I am currently studying. I dance the whole choreography once, taking mental notes of my mistakes and insecurities, then I break it down and try to correct the mistakes and clarify the doubts. Finally,as a treat, I do braceo excercises and vueltas. Things may change a little before a performance.
That sounds like a solid routine. Thanks for sharing! ~Rina