This is the time of year when we start thinking about the Spring Concert. Teachers are choosing music and costumes and creating choreography. Students are getting excited about the piece they are creating together and are anxious to learn their parts. And yet, we still need to do all the basics we’ve been focusing on in class the whole year. It can be hard at this point in the year, not to get impatient with the technique part of class—the warm ups, the exercises at the barre, the center work. But those things are the foundation of everything we do on stage. They keep us strong, flexible and safe.
All dancers, no matter the style they are working in or how long they have been dancing, start every class with the basics. Plié (a bending of the legs over the toes) is an essential movement that done properly allows us to jump, hop, leap, and safely descend to the floor. If done improperly, it can lead to poor alignment, instability and possibly chronic injury. Relevé (a rising to the ball of the foot) enables us to perform numerous kinds of turns as well as appear to defy gravity while balancing on one foot. If relevé is not learned with precision it can cause dancers to have many problems with their feet, lower legs and back.
Just as a pianist practices scales everyday, so must a dancer go through the basic steps everyday. Dance skills are like building blocks. One must be solidly in place before the next can be placed on top. What makes a great dancer is the willingness to work on the small things over and over so that later on the big things will be spectacular.
So, if you are feeling impatient with class and just want to get to the choreography, remember that all of the work we put in to refine our technique serves to make the dance that much more beautiful and will keep us dancing longer and stronger. Treat each exercise like a mini dance and perform it with as much precision and passion as you will eventually put into your performance in the Spring Concert. It will be here before you know it!