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Ballet Talk for Dancers

combatting the effects of the day


Guest beckster

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Guest beckster

I've been entered for my grade 6 exam! In some ways I am delighted, because the exam will almost certainly be around my 2-year ballet anniversary, something of a double achievement. However, I am finding it harder and harder to work well in my evening classes because I am so tired after a day in the lab (finishing up the PhD and also doing a full-time job). I know I could do so much better if I wasn't so tired. I learn things ok in my saturday private lesson and then am disappointed on my evening classes when its as though I'm not even trying. I'm a little concerned I may have taken on too much! But it was my choice to do this and I'm going to follow it through. So, does anyone have advice for combatting the tiredness of a day at work? I was thinking of bringing maybe a banana and an apple to eat before class to get my energy levels up, but is there anything else I can do?

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Here's where focus really comes into play! The fruit sounds like a good idea, and a quick cup of tea couldn't hurt either, but the primary goal is to function well in the task at hand, much like setting up an experiment for the degree. And after all, aren't many classes a lot like experiments?:)

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Way to go, Bex! And to think it's not that long since you thought you'd never be good enough to take the exam... Anyway, as far as combating tiredness goes, have you tried meditation? If you've got time, take half-an-hour out before class to sit in a peaceful place and unwind from the day before.

 

I'm no expert, but what works for me is to sit still and comfortably, breathe deeply, and kinda work my way around my body finding areas of tension and telling them to relax. When your body's all relaxed, do the same with your mind - find the areas of tension, and make them relax.

 

This last part's easier said than done, of course, but the fact is that all the things that tend to play on our mind are never very important in the here-and-now, and you've just got to remind yourself of that.

 

You'll probably be worried that you've got so many things to do, and your mind will be reluctant to let go of them until after class. Remind yourself, then, that a break will do you good, and that you'll work much more efficiently with a fresh mind. Ballet class will freshen your mind, so that's what you need to do now.

 

If there's a particular problem that's occupying you, decide on your next course of action, then move it from the 'present' part of your mind to the 'future' part. If you can't decide on your next course of action, then the next course of action is to decide! Doesn't really matter - just put it out of mind for now.

 

Or maybe someone in your office has wound you up, and you're angry about it. So remind yourself that they're only human, and that they're just trying to make you feel the frustration that they're feeling. Acknowledge their frustration, but don't be drawn into making it your own. There's no need!

 

Or maybe you're wound up because the traffic was lousy on the way home, or there was a massive queue in the supermarket, or you're worried that George Bush is going to bring about the end of the world before not too long. So remind yourself that you're only human, and that these things are out of your control. Thinking about them is not going to do anything to help the situation!

 

Ultimately, then, your mind and body will enter a fully relaxed state, so continue sitting and breathing deeply for a while, thinking of absolutely nothing. When you're accustomed to this state, get up slowly and go to class! It feels a bit spacey at first, and the journey to class can be a little unnerving, but just concentrate on the class ahead, and you should find it a much better experience.

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What helps me with energy is remember and attend to the the very basics.

 

Sleeping well and enough. You should feel refreshed and alert in the mornings when you wake, not like you hate rising up and desperately need a cup of tea/coffee.

 

Eating healthily and enough. :)

 

Take some time to yourself doing nothing "productive" or "useful". It does not have to be anything fancy - just going to lunch alone without notebook, calendar or such can work.

 

Good luck to the grade exam!

Päivi

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psavola, I have the same problem. Every weekday I rush home after work, feed the cats and change into my leotard, and then race to the studio for my 5pm class. I'm very grateful to be in a position to take class every night, but it usually takes me 20 minutes or so into barre before I'm able to mentally relax from the day's responsibilities and really focus on ballet. And physically, too, I'm often so tired that I don't feel as if I'm doing all the steps to my best ability. I think Mr. Robin had some great suggestions, and I'm going to keep them in mind! Psavola, one suggestion I'd like to add to your idea of a fruit snack before class is to make sure to drink enough water throughout the day. I find that even slight dehydration contributes to my fatigue. Any other advice out there for us overcommitted types?

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Beckster,

 

Have you tried taking a vitamin supplement?

 

I take Spirulina and it works! I take about 4 tablets just after breakfast (which is usually some cereal with a banana - bananas are supposed to be good energy boosters).

 

Rio

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And they're a good source of potassium, besides!:)

 

But a word of caution here about mentioning specific products or supplements, unless they're nearly generic (Tylenol=acetaminophen, Aleve=naproxen sodium) because that gets uncomfortably close to prescribing, and I'd like to stay away from allegations that people on Ballet Talk prescribe medications. No censure here, only a "be careful" - vitamin supplements of a multiple sort can be highly beneficial to some people, and worth trying.

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Guest beckster

My plan now is to try and get to ballet a bit earlier, to eat my banana and chill out. Although that might not work because the changing room is always full of teenagers and there isn't much space. I'll try anyway because I think focus is the problem, and I do get distracted by the other girls somewhat (stupid I know).

 

Advice from the teachers: should I continue with the slow grade 6 class on top of the exam one, or should I do an open class for variety so I don't get bored. The slower class does make me feel more confident since I'm used as a demonstrator. But bearing in mind I have a half-hour private lesson on the exam stuff as well, I don't want to get stale.

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luna,

 

I think you mixed people up and meant beckster instead?

 

I haven't had energy problem for 9 months now after I decided enough sleep and enough healthy food at sufficiently short intervals are definitely a priority.

Sometimes I still slip and stay up late to finish homework or eat too little, but I always regret it in the next ballet class. :)

 

Päivi

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You seem to feel good about the in-school slower grade 6 class, so I would keep it. You can use it as a means to mastery of the material on which you will be examined.:) Of course, if you feel you need a little shot of variety, then you could always add an open class now and then, just for morale purposes!:D

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