Early morning. Pull myself out of bed. Stumble to the bathroom. Splash some water on my face. Get dressed. Grab my bag with my costume and shoes, and my castanets–did I remember to pack my castanets last night? I hope so. Walk quickly to the subway. No time to grab a coffee. I’ve got to be in another borough in not too long, in an auditorium filled with energetic kids. Hopefully the school has a decent sound system and the floor isn’t cement.

Getting to an early morning school show isn’t always the easiest, but when I start dancing first thing in the morning, I lose myself completely in the dance and the music in a different way than an evening show.  And I dance with a calmness that I often lack in other performances.

Dancing at a school show last year in Rye, NY with Flamenco Vivo. 

I’m generally a morning person, although dancing first thing in the morning is a challenge for most dancers since muscles are tighter than at the end of the day. There’s often little time to warm up as well. Now, I’m not complaining, I very much enjoy doing early morning school shows–starting off the day by dancing and sharing dance is a pretty great way to start any day. And there’s something really important I’ve learned from school shows; how to dance with much less unnecessary tension in my body.

There’s something about mornings that makes me totally relaxed. I dance more calmly, with more control. Several people have mentioned this to me after seeing me perform in the morning, so it’s not just me feeling different about my dancing. Holding extra tension is something a lot of dancers have to learn to correct, and it’s something that I am always working on–not tensing my neck or shoulders especially. Part of me just does not entirely understand why; shouldn’t I be tighter, tenser, less emotive first thing in the morning? Maybe it’s that I haven’t had much time to think, or overthink, the dance, so I just listen and let my muscles react without my brain getting in the way.

I’m curious as to why that is the case, though what I really need to know is how to translate that feeling into my dancing all the time. That isn’t to say I want to lose the moments of intense expression, but to use those moments sparingly when they are most effective. I breath through the movements more in the morning and I have to actively remind myself to do so at other times.