Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers to close ×
Ballet Talk for Dancers

Not Wasting Time


Recommended Posts

I figure everyone here will have a perspective (and hopefully some advice) on this issue. I'm in the last stages of a PhD, and because I feel like I'm never working hard enough, I'm having a hard time keeping up with all the extra stuff I usually do.

I don't feel any guilt about the time I spend actually in ballet class (it's the highlight of my day 3x a week) but I'm finding it almost impossible to stretch, do sit-ups and those endless releves for strengthening the feet. It's not hard to sit down and do them (in fact this is the only time in my life when I've been really happy to do sit ups: procrastination) but when I do I get so antsy that I have to stop and go back to the books.

It seems like before I could always just get my work done, and then do my working out. What do I do when my work is never done?

Link to comment

ah! poor dido. i know how you feel.


instead of having ONE such an important thing to be doing, i have a myriad of less-important things that are forever undone or unfinished, and i feel similar to you. i get very irritable because whatever i am doing, i am NOT doing something ELSE!!!


i sympathise.


my sister finished a PhD early this year, so i have an inkling of understanding of what a long haul it can be, and how stressful, and how important it is to actually GET to the end.


you may not like this advice, but i would suggest that you lighten up re ballet and stretching and so on. stop placing so much pressure on yourself about it, and get that PhD out of the way - for the sake of your sanity. the other stuff can come later - unless you are planning a dance career - which i am sort of doubting?!

Link to comment
Guest beckster

To add another perspective, I finished my PhD last year. I would advise that you really have to be quite single-minded about finishing it. However, you still have to eat, sleep, and dance ;) so you could set aside 30 mins each day for stretching, the same way you would set aside time to eat. Perhaps when you first get up, so you then can't procrastinate for the rest of the day.


I personally wouldn't worry about it too much though - three classes a week is plenty to keep your ballet skills up and make sure you remain relatively stretched, strong, etc. You can always stretch and read at the same time, releve and cook at the same time. Just fit things in when you can and don't worry when you can't. You've got the rest of your life to dance in, and getting the PhD handed in will be a load off your mind.

Link to comment
Guest temple_dancer

Hi dido, I know exactly you feel at the moment, because I'm in the final stages of my Honours degree at uni and I'm majorly behind with my thesis work, and I'm also finding it hard to find practice time for my ballet exam (which is early next year).


I'd say you're already doing fantastically well by taking three classes a week of dancing in addition to completing your PhD. What my friends have been saying to me when I get restless, is that there's only a little while longer to go before I never have to put all my time into my thesis anymore, and then you can do as much dancing as you like to celebrate finishing. I guess it's all about having to sacrifice for the short term of making an improvement in dancing, for gaining another kind of long-term achievement, i.e. your PhD dido, and I guess in my case, my Honours degree..


Good Luck with it all - you CAN do it! :D

Edited by temple_dancer
Link to comment

I used to stretch during one half-hour tv show. It may seem that you can't afford the "wasted" half-hour, but the tv show scheme has the advantage of being like a timer, and so in the end you "waste" less time by just having your fixed half-hour of exercise/rest.


Of course that was after I finished my PhD (whoa--there are lots of PhDs here!)--during the process I just watched the tv show and didn't do any stretching...indeed, not much exercise in general.

Link to comment

Yes koshka, it's the watching t.v. without stretching that gets me. I'm not really fantastically disciplined, it's just that I've been wasting my time non-productively (reading detective novels, cleaning the clean house, yammering with roommate about detective novels). I can only make time for doing nothing!

Thanks for the perspective though, everybody, I guess although quality is always better than quantity quantity is better than nothing at all!

Link to comment

Memories, memories, . . .


I was able to get my PhD and maintain an athletic life. When I think back to it, it was actually easy as I recall. Essentially, I treated school like a job. I was in my office by 7:30, went to class, seminars, and meetings, took my lunch and ate it at the office, did my research, all pretty much continuously and then quit at 5. From there I went directly to the training hall. Vaguely remember eating diner each night at about 9. On the weekends I trained hard too. Never did school work in the evenings. Did do my research on Saturday mornings quite often, however.


I also kept these hours during vacations and found it a great time to read, do my research, and otherwise study for prelims. I had no money and all that I had went into financing my athletic career, so it was really easy to maintain the routine.


Having separate lives (student and athlete) seemed to work well for me. By the way, I made more progress in my sport during my graduate school years than any other, so what I was doing seemed to work.


With dance, now I get to class an hour early and during that time I stretch, do some simple exercises and some ballet barre exercises. That works very well for me.


I also have exercised at noon for the last 25 years. That makes for a good break. The only drawback is that you learn to gulp your lunch down in 5 minutes. Probably not so healthy and definitely not stylish.

Link to comment

Hi. I'm just wondering why the sit-ups? Everything I've read over at least the past couple of decades describes this particular exercise as "X-rated," and I don't know of any dancers or students of dance who do them. I guess if this starts a discussion of any kind, we could start a new thread about other "X-rated Exercises." I know that in Pilates, they have an exercise on the bench called an "assisted sit-up," but it's quite different from the traditional sit-up.

Link to comment

Hey me again,

they'e not really situps Funny Face, all lower back firmly pressed into the (linoleum--ouch) floor (suitably cushioned by ratty old towels). They're still boring as all get out though, no matter what the variation, you have to get your 2, 4, 6, 8 (who do we appreciate [no, never a cheerleader, dated a wrestler though...]). They're still just all sit ups though. :D

And Garyecht I know what you mean. There's something about the total concentration of having to read 1000 lines of Greek, 1,200 lines of Latin plus six "scholarly" books per week... (doh, I'm a Classics phD, no wonder I love this site, nothing more "out of date" or "irrelevant" than ballet than Latin and Greek [although I'm ashamed to say that Major Mel puts me to shame in the military history deparment, along with many others --any advice for teaching greek history in prison, Major Mel?]).

You know to be honest I was looking for a lot of people like me (working on a PhD, just plain working, single moms, single dads, people who live with or take their work home with them) and I've got a lot of them, thanks a ton. Looking for that voice that says, "Shut up and do the sit ups, what you're going to sit in the kitchen and drink coffee and watch birds while reading --insert title here--Dorothy Sayers/Joan Aiken/ Reginald Hill/ Richard Stark book-- for the 3 bagillionthtime?"

Well hell yeah, I'm tired, I'm losing flexibility as well as strength. I know I'm never going to be good, but I also know I'm not giving it what I've got.

Alright, lets get to work now.

Edited by dido
Link to comment

Hi dido -- I'm not sure I understand you completely regarding the sit-ups. The ones that were traditionally done, lying on the floor and hoisting one's upper body into position while the feet were usually held in place by another person have been largely X-rated due to the undue stress on the lower back and on the cervical spine. Boring, perhaps. Dangerous, certainly.


The exercise referred to as the "assisted sit-up" on the Pilates bench has the individual's legs bent at the knee, and the spine held into place at an incline (leaning backwards), with the abdominals keeping the back in that proper position. The arms remain straight, although not locked and they, with the pulleys, lend support to the exercise instead of being held at the back of the head and folded across one's chest as in the traditional sit-up. Apart from the similarity of the name, the versions vary greatly, with the most important aspect being that the assisted sit-ups, as described herein, do not pose a danger to the individual performing them. I personally do not find them boring either, as they -- as part of the entire Pilates routine -- flow from one exercise into the next, with a sense of continuity.

Link to comment
Guest beckster

I thought dido was talking about crunches rather than full sit-ups. Where you only lift your upper back/shoulders off the floor. Very popular in "bums and tums" type classes and we sometimes do them at the start of ballet class.

Link to comment

I’ll assert that a Pilates roll up and neck pull (first half) are nothing more than sit-ups. Those who criticize the “sit-up” do so because keeping the legs straight tends to place more stress on the psoas muscles and less on the abs, which is the opposite of what most people are looking for when they do an abs exercise. But of course in both the Pilates roll up and neck pull you keep the legs straight.

Link to comment

Hi Gary -- The "assisted sit-up" I do on my Pilates machine has the legs bent at the knee, and the feet flat on the bench. I would never do a sit-up with a straight leg. Also, there is no stress to the c-spine or l-spine in the version I described above. I would truly know if this were the case, as I am very hyperextended and would be the first to feel it, particularly in the l-spine.

Link to comment

Dido... at what school are you finishing your Classics PhD? I just finished a technical PhD at Harvard.


For the last 3.5 years of the PhD studies, I was studying ballet very seriously --- first as stduent, then apprentice, then as professional dancer for the last year. I did this all at the ballet company in Cambridge. Now I'm a post-doc at a nearby hospital and this is also our first week of rehearsals at the ballet.


Starting the ballet season has helped me reflect back on Spring 2003 when I was trying to finish up. At one time in late winter I held four jobs. Yes, four --- dancer, grad student and two consulting jobs. It was crazy, not at all advisable. I did it so I could do what I wanted to do in life --- to dance, and to have a post-doc waiting for me when I graduated. It worked, and I started the post-doc in July.


I remember the dance season last Spring, I was very grouchy. I felt like I just didn't have time for it. I could feel the impending doom every day. One of the other dancers has a husband going to MIT. He sent me "Newton's Laws of Graduation" from the MIT student newspaper. One was "a grad student in procrastination stays in procrastination unless acted upon by an outside force." It was all funny but also hit WAY too close to home for comfort.


I wanted to tell my artistic director to just put me in one dance for the Spring, to give me more time. But I could never manage to do it. I just kept going somehow. Immediately after the Spring season was over, I focused on finishing the PhD and a few things in my dancing (mainly focus) fell apart for the next couple of months.


The lucky thing about PhD is that in many cases (mine at least) you can take as long as you like, as long as you keep making progress. If you don't have any firm deadlines for the defence, then I would suggest just keep doing what you need to do to live the life you want. Exercises at home? If they're boring, I would forget them. Dance class is good because it gives human contact. For a while, dance company and class were my MAIN source of human contact, after sitting at home all day writing.


Then again, firm deadlines sometimes DO crop up in the graduate school process. Also, I know what you mean --- finishing up DOES take a certain level of concentration. I wasn't really able to do that until after the season was over. Then I could just go to class every day, do the exercises and go home.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...