Monthly Archives: September 2013

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Mindful Warmups

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Warming up is important. The older you get, the more important it becomes. Without warming up, cold, tight muscles don’t respond the way you want them to in order to move. They have limited range of motion. they pull your body out of alignment. They are more vulnerable to injury.

Gentle movements that get the blood flowing and create heat in the body make a typical warm up routine. Most dancers have a set of movements that they perform to warm up at the beginning of every practice. It’s easy, and not uncommon, to go through this warmup routine with the mind elsewhere, thinking about a choreography or move, or, in a group setting, socializing while moving. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But, I confess, my favorite is the mindful warmup.

Tuning into exactly what is going on in my body, even if I’m going through a set routine of movements, has benefits all its own. In some ways it’s like a diagnostic check. I can note any areas of my body that are tight (need to stretch more), hurting (be gentle with them), or out of alignment (pay attention to posture and technique). I can spend more time where necessary to loosen up and bring into alignment any area that needs extra attention.

There are also deeper, less obvious benefits. Dancers live in the body. Our body is the medium for our art, and the more connected to it we feel, the happier and more soulful I believe we are. Dancing training itself involves not just consciously learning movements, but creating “muscle memory” – actually growing new neural pathways for finer and more instinctive control of movement. The direction of your attention very much affects this process. Tuning in to your body as you warm up primes you for this growth to happen.

Lastly, I find the use of a standard warmup routine almost serves as a ritual, to get me into a dance mindset. Just as in martial arts, where we start with a “bow in” or other short ritual to tell us where we are and let the concerns outside drop away, paying attention and being present for my warmup tells me I’m in the studio, and no matter what else is going on in my life, it’s time to dance.

 

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“Egyptian dancers glisten…”

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“… Turkish dancers sweat.”

I sweat when I dance. A lot. I’ve joked that I should bill myself as “the Sweatiest Dancer in Boston”. Needless to say, I’ve had plenty of time and opportunity to test out ways to keep my makeup from melting off. Here are some of my favorites:

Urban Decay Primer Potion. This is the classic, and I always apply it all around my eye area before any other makeup.

Maybelline Color Tattoo cream shadows. I don’t use these alone, but rather as a base for powder shadows. Anything I apply on top of them Does. Not. Budge. I even use a small brush to line under my eyes with one of these and then press a dark powder liner into it. It stays put, even through multiple dance sets. (Bonus – the shade “Too Cool” is my favorite bone structure highlighter.)

Black gel eyeliner. I’m currently using Clinique, but I’ve had good luck with everything from MAC to Wet&Wild brands. I can’t, however, get any of them to stay put on my lower lash line.

Tubing mascara. Mascaras smudge on me. Always. Except these. I use Blinc in black to make sure my own eyelashes don’t stand out lighter against the underside of my false lashes. (I don’t like applying mascara to my false lashes – it’s impossible to remove so you can reuse the lash .)

NARS Semi Matte Lipstick – My performance color is Fire Down Below. I don’t know about “semi matte” – this stuff seems pretty matte to me, and is not moist and comfortable on your lips, but it won’t fade in mid-show like some creamier lipsticks do. Best applied with a lip brush.

Dermablend Leg and Body Cover. Got a scar, bruise, etc below the neck that you want to cover? Want a body makeup that won’t come off on your costume? This is the stuff. Warning – it goes on at least a full shade lighter than it dries down, and takes 8-10 minutes to set. So when you test shades before buying, wait the full 10 minutes or you’ll end up with a shade that’s too dark.

Now, if someone could just come up with a body glitter that doesn’t get all over the house…