It’s Thursday morning. That means it’s a studio morning. In order to prove to myself that I’m serious about the solo blues competition in June, I booked studio time for myself every Thursday from 10-noon. I’ve never actually done this before, but it does have a certain “Flashdance” feeling. Time to don the ratty legwarmers, darling.
And yes, there are other Flashdance moments. Sprints in the park. Lifting at the gym. Sadly, I’m not a welder, or a stripper.
Every Thursday I dread it. Two hours in the studio with myself. It’s hard work. I’m paying by the hour, paying by the minute. I have to make the most of it. Me and the floor. There’s no mirror, which is hard. I can’t see how I move. So, I position the ipad in the corner and video myself. This turns out to be the best possible use this gadget has had. I can video myself for a song. Watch it, rewind, analyze, and do it again. Better than any mirror, because in a solo comp, there is no mirror, except for the hundreds of eyes in the audience.
The solo competition is a strange thing, because it’s also a cutting competition. Meaning that you can’t just get out there and do your thing. You have to react to your opposition, answer them, and ideally… cut them down. I’ve been slacking these last few days when it comes to dancing solo, watching videos and putting my mind into frame.
I learned something two years ago, the first time I won the solo comp in Austin. Mind frame was almost as important as practice time and training. I’d heard of course of basketball teams who were instructed to think about shooting hoops. Studies about athletes who visualize their success tend to show positive results.
I didn’t practice the week before the competition. But, I went running in the park. I did pushups. I did squats and lunges. And I listened to Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger every day for a week. Seriously.
Maybe I won because I really am an amazing dancer. (I don’t think so.) But I think I won because I was primed to. Because my brain was convinced I would, so everything I did out on the floor backed that up.
So, I know that when I take a few days or a week off from watching competition videos, dancing alone, and thinking about winning strategies, I’m slacking. It’s not enough to just show up at the studio and go through the motions. You have to put your mind in the training space. I read a rock-climbing book years ago that talked about the importance of training with stress. For example: going to a climbing gym and doing harder and harder routes is one way to improve. Cross training is a great way to improve. But the author stressed the importance of doing climbs where you have an audience and where something is at stake. Because the experience of climbing with an audience and with something more at stake than getting to the top of today’s route puts enough adrenaline and cortisol in your system, that your muscles have to work differently to overcome that stress. And training under stress means that you’ll be able to handle that stress.
As I write this, I realize that all the solo dancing I have planned this month isn’t going to cut it. I’m going to have to go back to that idea I had about finding a hip-hop crew and getting some cutting practice in.