A dancer’s life is filled with routines and rituals that help them work and perform to the best of their ability every day. Trifecta Dancer and Dance and Music Academy teacher Joanna Paul gives us her insights on the importance of prioritizing dancer self-care, and shares the preparations she believes to be most beneficial in her day-to-day life as a dancer.
In the past six years of professional dancing and teaching, Joanna has become a pro at staying active and healthy to perform her best. “I try to prioritize self-care; drinking plenty of water, getting seven to eight hours of sleep at night, and giving my body the workout it needs that day,” said Joanna. Whether practicing yoga, taking class, or going to the gym, Joanna takes that time to herself to keep active amidst the demands of performing and teaching.
The contents of a dancer’s bag tell show much about who they are. In Joanna’s, she holds some of her tools to success: a tennis ball for rolling out, ibuprofen, a theraband for stretching her feet, black socks, extra layers of clothing, a water bottle, and ear buds. Joanna personalized her bag to her own needs, and encourages dancers to do the same.
Before a show, Joanna, like many professional dancers, will follow a routine of familiarity. “I will do a warm up that specifically targets your core and ankles,” said the Trifecta dancer. Though warming up is a seemingly obvious tip, Joanna designates this time to the particular movement and style she will perform. She then takes a moment in the performance space, to look out where the audience will be seated and mentally prepare herself for the show. “I mentally prepare myself to project my focus outward and connect with the audience,” said Joanna. “I always take five slow breaths before I go onstage to calm my nerves.”
After being a part of her life for so long, these rituals come to Joanna naturally and push her through her rigorous performance season. Whether they pursue a future in professional dance or not, our young DMA dancers can learn the value in prioritizing care in their daily lives. Maintaining a healthy routine brings stability and confidence to not only a professional dancer but also a hard working person.
Getting used to just dancing your best and feeling confident in your movement may be the best routine to adapt form Joanna’s traditions. “Before my college auditions, one of my teachers advised me to "keep my blinders on,": to not spend the moments leading up to the audition class comparing myself to the other dancers around me,” said Joanna. “I love that advice and still think of it to this day.”