Resting the Body and Feeding the Soul

/, Dance Profession, Rehearsing/Resting the Body and Feeding the Soul

Resting the Body and Feeding the Soul

A moment during Sueños Flamencos at The Outpost Performance Space.
I’ve been going non-stop since January. Beginning with shows the first week of the year at APAP (Association of Performing Arts Presenters) Conference, then on to gigs and teaching, then seven weeks on the road with Flamenco Vivo, and then preparing and performing my own show, Sueños Flamencos. It’s been a great year so far! I definitely cannot complain, I’ve been having a blast performing, learning, and growing. 
By the time I finished with all of that, I was exhausted. I got back to NYC after my show in Albuquerque, and I realized I really needed to rest. I wanted to take class, I wanted to do yoga, and I wanted to be a social butterfly and catch up with everyone I know in NYC that I haven’t seen in a few months. But what I really needed, was rest. It’s really hard for me to stop driving myself forward, in other words to relax, read, watch TV, knit, to sleep in, and other seemingly “unproductive” things. But taking a few days to do that is not un-productive. It means that after the short period of rest, I was productive; I came back to my work with a lot more energy. 
I often have the attitude that if I rest, even for a handful of days, I will get behind. Now that I’ve been dancing full time for a few years, I realize that rest, when appropriate, will keep me from falling behind–from burning out. 
I visited a class of flamenco dancers at The Public Academy for Performing Arts in Albuquerque, and one girl asked me what I did on days I didn’t feel like dancing. I explained that staying inspired is part of the work of being a dancer, or any artist. Yes, there are days I don’t want to rehearse, that I don’t want to be in the studio, but I find ways to keep myself engaged, inspired, and work towards a goal. Taking class is hugely important; learning new steps, getting corrections, picking up a teacher’s ideas all help me find something to work on in the studio. Setting goals for myself also helps–then I have something specific to work on. Rest isn’t something you do just because you don’t feel like rehearsing or engaging; rest means recharging so you can work more efficiently. 
Dancers give a lot when they perform, and we need time to recharge. That doesn’t mean sitting around and doing nothing for days on end, but finding ways to let ourselves rest, mentally and physically, without stopping our training.  That’s when cross training becomes really important, especially to prevent overuse of certain muscle groups. And I think the same goes for the brain; it’s good to cross train in the arts, i.e. get creative in another genre or field, or even other hobbies entirely. For me, that’s generally sewing, knitting, and reading. 
Going for a hike in CT after several months of dancing and traveling. 
I recently heard actress Zuzanna Sadowski give a speech to budding artists at YoungArts New York. And she mentioned that as artists its crucial to keep our souls healthy, since that’s where our expression comes from. I think for every artist there’s a different way they do that, and we have to be in tune to what will keep our souls ready to create and express. Sometimes that means taking a day off, a day to get out of the city, a visit with friends or family, or sometimes it means spending eight hours in the studio. 
The view from lunch–feeding the body and the soul 😉
2018-01-11T21:01:30+00:00

About the Author:

Alice Blumenfeld is a flamenco dancer, choreographer, writer, and educator. She holds a MFA in dance from Hollins University and currently directs Abrepaso Flamenco.

Leave A Comment