This Royal Ballet organiser would be a cute dance journal. Look at those ’60s ballerinas! (Image: roh.org.uk)
So the other week I obsessively read every single article on the Ballet pages at iSport. Yes, even the one about how to get those perfect Russian Fouettes, which is so totally applicable to me.
The bit about keeping a dance journal actually made me smile – it seems to be aimed at younger dancers who might be concerned about their mum finding their top secret biz. But I thought I’d give it a try and my journal has been taking shape over the past couple of months.
There’s several reasons why I find it useful. First of all, I began it after a period of feeling really miserable and not getting to class for about three weeks – previously UNHEARD of. So I can see each entry and feel proud of a small victory – of getting to class, doing something that makes me happy and healthy, working hard. Also, the moments of reflection as I scribble (…tap?) in it on the bus to and from class are lovely. And its not often that you get to go OMG blahblah did you see me on the temps levee I felt like a baby elephant!! straight out of class, unless you’re lucky enough to have some close ballet friends. I think the actual content of the journal is perhaps secondary to these reflective, affirming qualities. But of course you do track your progress, think about corrections, note all the fleeting glimmers of feeling and performance that are so hard to pin down and hold on to.
Here’s what I do and how I set it out.
I work in Evernote, on my Kindle Fire. Easy to slip in my ballet bag and less likely to get lost or forgotten than paper notebooks. I do it to and from class, so it’s always in the moment, never a chore I have to fill in later on.
AIMS going in to class. Lately these have been all about relaxing and practising yoga breathing. I’m so bloody tense. I do need reminding to. just. breathe.
CORRECTIONS obvs. All the personal ones, of course, and the class-wide general ones. Often I’ll reflect on what changed or felt different after the correction, or f there’s anything I need clarification on.
THOUGHTS – divided into two sub-sections:
GOOD. I knew I’d have to force myself to focus on the good bits so the whole enterprise didn’t turn into My Book on Why I’m Crap at Dancing. The brain’s really good at selectively focussing on the difficult bits isn’t it? So here goes things like: I’m keeping my releve for longer all the time; adage was challenging but felt great; learnt a new step; I understood much more clearly about how my standing leg should be working in xxx; my port de bras is friggin’ ELEGANT, etc.
DIFFICULTIES. All the bits that come up during class that you want to work on, of course.
SORE SPOTS. I don’t have any injuries I need to look after or anything but I think it’s useful to reflect on how your body feels after class. I reminded myself about footcare when my feet were sore, for example.
AIMS both for next class, and in the longer term. Two major continuing journeys are the Muscle Relaxation Quest and the Pirouette Crusade.
So far, it’s all feeling good. I’d love to hear from other people who keep one, or are thinking of starting one, too. Maybe you do something differently?