Updated: May 7, 2020
Entering a new season can be daunting to say the least and at the Romanian National Ballet we are given a hearty two months of for our off season (summer break), which dare I say is far too much. Like any artist or athlete weather it be physical or even musical absolutely no more than a few days can be taken off completely without really feeling the repercussions when you get back into it, and starting a new season out of shape can be catastrophic for the year ahead, or certainly in my experience.
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These are a few things that I do to stay in shape/ throw myself into the new season. Some of them may seem extreme but anyone who's been 'out of it' for any length of time will understand that there really is no way to replicate what we do day to day, weather that's just class, a full day of rehearsals or still being on stage dancing act 4 swan lake at 10pm on a Sunday evening.
Pointe shoes for slippers Firstly I wear my pointe shoes as slippers for as long in the day and evening as I can. Don't get me wrong I don't do my groceries in them but as close to it without being completely weird. For me the worst part of those first rehearsals back is not dancing on pointe for 4-6 hours of the day it's the bruising your feet take from just standing in them for that amount of time. Top tip, stock up your freezer with ice trays because that first week the best thing to recover from that bruising is to give yourself mini foot ice baths before bed.
Kinesiology tape This is a stretchy sports strapping tape that can be used for all sorts, people use it a lot for injuries but also almost as a reminder for certain things. At the moment I'm using it to correct the posture in my shoulders, they tend so sag forward a little when I've had some time off. I strap them as a reminder of where they should be - back and down. During the season if my lower legs are tired I also use it to stabilise my ankles, it just creates a little pull as a reminder for good alignment. Where to purchase...
The Foam Roller It's a dancers best friend, we all carry them around like puppy dogs and it's the best way to start and finish a day. You have to learn to enjoy the pain, like a mean sports massage but you're all the better for it afterwards. The key is to find your knots and sit on them until released, the weight of your body is more than enough to relax any tight spots.
Airex Balance Pad I bought this when I was in school for rehab on an ankle injury but now I use it as part of my daily routine. I start my warm up for class on it with pliés and rises to warm up my feet and ankles and the during the day for strengthening exercises. As it's an unstable foam pad it makes all the little muscles you didn't know you had work to stabilise and gain control targeting the whole lower torso instead on just the feet and ankles. Having said that it's also perfect for me as I can really work every part of each foot down to my pinky toes, something I can't do on a flat surface. It's the best think for me to get my pointe work back up to scratch.
Arm and Ankle Weights For my arms I just use 500g weights on each wrist and for my ankles at the moment 1kg. I actually wear them on my wrists everyday day in class at the barre. They create extra resistance for me to feel my movements starting from my back rather than them just wafting around. For my ankles I don't wear them in class as I don't feel I can close in a proper fifth position whilst wearing them and that bothers me. I use them to do my own petite allegro to gain back small explosive footwork. Again creating a resistance to force myself to use every part of my leg to jump rather than just relying on my feet ankles because as soon as I start corps de ballet work if I just leave it to my lower legs my shins are wrecked after only a week. Where to purchase...
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