DIY (Dance it Yourself): Dance Survival Kits

Have all these earthquakes got you on edge?  You can never be too prepared for the next disaster—dance disaster that is!  Build your very own dance survival kit

Your standard dance kit for extra-long rehearsals, workshops, and classes should include these basics:

Tiger balm: I don’t know what they put in it. Hopefully not actual tigers…
  • Band aids are a must for blisters and rubs.
  • Tiger balm for sore muscles.  You can buy it at your local drug store and save yourself a world of pain.
  • Shoe laces, elastics, ribbons, or whatever else keeps your shoes on your feet and not all over the dance floor.  Your local dance store will have them by the bundle, but you can save a bundle by going to a craft store.  
  • Screw driver – a must if you’re a tapper with some screws loose.  They have all sorts of nifty mini screw driver kits at dollar stores that are the perfect size to slip into your dance bag.
  • Sewing kit–whether you need a little extra thread, or a safety pin to hold you together
  • Bobby pins and hair elastics
  • Aspirin
  • Snacks!–Everyone has their favorite power food, whether it’s a Cliff bar, trail mix, or a little bit of sugar.
  • Extra water bottle–you can either a tiny one small enough to slip into your dance bag, or large enough to keep you set through the Apocalypse.

For shows and auditions, pump it up with additions:

  • An extra pair of tights–because if you’re anything like me, you’ll only remember
  • Double sided tape
  • Lipstick and mascara
  • Make-up wipes
  • Hot glue—you never know when your shoe is going to fall apart at the worst moment.  When that moment comes, you have hot glue.

If you really want to pimp out your bag, add these few extras:

Mini Rollers
These are super handy to roll out sore muscles–and they’re much smaller than a foam roller!
  • Mini massage roller–you can get small ones at Target that are perfect size for on the go
  • Theraband–find it at your local dance store, or online.
  • Potpourri bag–because your dance moves may be pretty, but the smell coming from your dance bag is not.


Growing Pains: Growing into a Professional Company, Part 2

A few weeks back, I wrote about the difficulties of getting a new dance company off its feet and onto its pointe shoes.  I quickly realized that there are a lot more difficulties than one puny blog post can detail.  Now, back by no demand, I bring you a few more obstacles to starting Stretch….and how we’re getting around it.

Our dancers are awesome…too awesome.

Stretchers are amazing dancers from all different genres and types of dance and are held to very high standards (you have to in order to make it in Lyndell Perfect Land!).  Unfortunately, that means our dancers are good enough to book gigs, which means Lyndell is constantly scheduling around other rehearsals and sometimes even losing dancers to overseas commitments.

Denai and Chris
Denai and Chris also lead dance warm ups when Lyndell is off doing…whatever creative directors do.

How we’re overcoming it:

We dance around our schedules as much as we dance around the studio.  Usually, the only time everyone is free is on Saturday nights.  It’s not always the best time, but we’re making it work for now.  We also have two awesome dance captains, Denai and Chris, who learn every single dancer’s choreography so that they can jump in when someone is missing.  We also take a video each rehearsal (the edited versions are posted on our YouTube channel!) to catch up on any choreography that we missed.  This means that each dancer has to be really on top of their choreography and able to follow it ourselves.

Time is…time.

Like all artists, Stretchers have day jobs.  This means we have anywhere from 20-40 hours of work and/or school in our week before we even begin attacking Stretch rehearsals.  This doesn’t just apply to rehearsals, but to the administrative side of the company as well.  Every assistant, every designer, and especially all of the creative and magic that Lyndell does on her end.  Finding dance space and writing pitch letters may sound boring, but it’s vital for a baby dance company to find its feet.

How we’re overcoming it:

I can honestly say that I’ve never worked with such a selfless, caring group of dancers.  Each dancer does their part to help out.  Whether it’s passing along grant opportunities, finding ten new possible VIPs for our premiere, or a certain dancer typing up a blog every week, each person does their part to help Stretch become an established company in record time.

Almost kissing in a handstand with pointed toes…only in Lyndell Perfect Land.

Lyndell Perfect Land is a hard place to live.

I’ve referenced Lyndell Perfect Land in past blog posts, but I don’t think I’ve ever fully explained what it is.  Lyndell Perfect Land is an amazing place where gravity only exists sometimes, our spines can bend in two, our costumes are designed by Hugo Boss, and there are 92 hours to every day.  It’s amazing to see it become reality, but getting there is as difficult as getting somewhere over the rainbow without a tornado.

How we’re overcoming it:

Practice makes Lyndell Perfect Land!  It’s always amazing to me when Lyndell says something along the lines of “Ideally, I’d like this to end in a backbend that you hold for two minutes…” or “That cartwheel looks too pretty; can you do it on your elbows instead?”  (this is usually the point in the rehearsal process where I say something snarky).  But somehow, through sweat blood, and the right amount of chutzpah, we make the leap into Lyndell Perfect Land.

Lyndell wants YOU to bust out sixteen pirouettes.

Dance Etiquette for Dummies: Encore Edition

After my post a couple weeks ago with  some people who can’t get off their phone in yoga class, I went to a show where I got a double dose of inconsiderate theatergoers.  We were in the middle of the ingenue’s ballad when I heard a scrtich scratch scritch scratch behind me.  Someone was actually filing her nails in the middle of the show.  It was like the theater gods had put her in my path on purpose, telling me that my job was not yet done.

Since it would be a three-act tragedy to go against the theater gods, I’m following up on last week’s post about class etiquette with audience etiquette.

Take care of your personal hygiene at home.  Maybe you brush your teeth while watching TV at home, but we’re in public.  Here’s the short list of things I’ve seen audience members do during the show:

  • Clipping and filing nails
  • Flossing
  • Brushing hair
  • Putting on mascara
  • Putting on deodorant

Leaving during the final scene.  Do you just stop reading a book when you know what happens at the end?  Do you stop driving one exit away from your house?  I think the idea that these early rises have this strange idea that if they leave five minutes earlier, they’ll magically miss LA traffic.  It’s not saving you that much time, and you’re missing out on the epic finale number.

Stretch - Bad Theater Goes WIlkes
John Wilkes Booth was the ultimate bad theatergoer: he not only shot the president, he jumped from the balcony and ran across the stage. RUDE.

TURN OFF YOUR CELLPHONE.  SERIOUSLY.  Nope, not to vibrate. Turn it off.   You may think that no one will notice you updating your Facebook status from the audience, but even the dimmest cell phone setting illuminates your face, meaning that you stand out like a lighthouse in a sea of faces. And you’d be surprised how far we can see.

This is my BIGGEST pet peeve about going to the theater.  I get it.  I also think that the zombie apocalypse will hit minutes after I turn off my cell phone, and I’ll lose my chance at getting out on time.

However, by leaving your cell phone, you’re really robbing yourself.  Live performance is an amazing, yet fragile experience.  It can be a transformative, amazing experience if you let yourself get lost in the world that the artists have created, but it is very easy to break that fourth wall.  You’re not only stomping all over the hard work of the performers that you paid to see, but on the impact of the performance for yourself.

So do yourself a favor: put away the cell phone and the nail clippers for two hours of your life, sit back, and enjoy the show.  Believe me: they’re still be there when you get out of the show.

Note: Know what’s surprisingly okay at a show?  Falling asleep.  Performers know that theater isn’t always exhilarating for everyone, not to mention it’s dark, sometimes we’re actually singing you lullabies, and the seats can be pretty comfy.  The biggest faux pas disturb the performance, but so long as you don’t snore to loudly, you won’t attract the ire of (most) performers, though we may giggle about it backstage.