Evening classes have always been tricky for me. After 5:30, I can’t seem to muster the energy to dance that is so easy for me to access in the morning, and it can be really hard to get through class. It happened to me on Monday evening. I was already tired before class even started, and about halfway through barre, I even felt my eyes getting heavy. I thought about leaving before center, then during center, and before big jumps, but forced myself to keep going. Needless to say, this was not one of my better classes—forcing myself into the required positions made me clench my muscles, and I ended up feeling tight, tense, and even more exhausted.
I think every dancer often feels this way, especially if you’re training at an elite level, perhaps even in a professional school. By the time you get to your evening class, be it after academic classes, after work, or a full day of other dance classes, it’s hard not to feel like you’re punching through the combinations, not dancing and enjoying the movement. I remember coming home from and eight-hour school day when I was a teenager and sacking out on the couch for two whole hours before my 6:00 p.m. ballet class, and barely able to get up to make it on time. It was tough going then—and I probably had pointe or rehearsal afterward, too.
I realized after Monday’s dreadful class that the reason I couldn’t get my energy up was because I had already talked myself out of being fit to dance. All I thought about during the last half of my day was how tired I was, and how badly I was going to do, and what my teacher was going to think. Instead, I really think that the key is to stay positive, and instead of getting yourself down by predicting a poor performance, look forward to your evening class as a time to loosen up and get your blood flowing after working hard all day. Try stretching a little, or doing some crunches if you get there early enough, which might help to get you moving, instead of sitting and zoning out. Allow yourself to relax and breathe during combinations, taking it one exercise at a time, without gripping your muscles too hard, which will only drain your energy reserves further. It usually helps me to pick a spot further from the mirror, so that I’m not overanalyzing every inch of my body and my technique instead of focusing on myself and keeping my movements free from strain. By the time center arrives, you’ll probably feel lighter, brighter, and ready for more. Especially that killer petite allegro your teacher always gives, right?