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Dancers Are Athletes: PRO REVEAL Dance Experience (A Reflection)

Dancers are athletes. You may have heard that phrase before. World-renown dancers and choreographers, Keone and Mariel Madrid, launched a campaign to share this important message through their mini-documentary (video below). And we, the dance community and the general public, are finally listening.

I recently had the privilege of learning from Keone and Mari at the REVEAL Dance Experience in Chicago this past weekend. What makes REVEAL unique from any dance convention I’ve attended is its mission: FOR THE COMMUNITY, BY THE COMMUNITY. From learning Chicago Footwork from Pause Eddie to Kuduro (African dance from Ongola) from Tony Tzar, and feel-good industry hip hop from Candace Brown to isolations from Annie Franklin, this was seriously one of the best dance trainings I have ever invested in. Purchasing the “PRO REVEAL” package also offered me the opportunity to train exclusively with Keone and Mari in a smaller group setting. Now, if you don’t know who Keone and Mari are, then… we’re probably not friends. Just kidding! However, you SHOULD get to know them because they’re wonderful role models and simply beautiful human beings. You can check out their work at www.keoneandmari.com

So, what did I learn during the PRO REVEAL session?

  1. I am an athlete.

  2. I am an artist.

  3. I am a creator.

For the sake of time, I will focus this post on the first lesson: I AM AN ATHLETE.

Unlike K&M, dance is not my full-time job. I work full-time as a food service manager, run my own nutrition consulting business, and dance on average of 15-20 hours per week. So, does this mean I’m a “part-time” athlete because I’m a “part-time” dancer? No. I’m rediscovering that being an athlete means having an athlete’s mentality. The last time I considered myself as an athlete was back when I was on the high school girls’ tennis team (Go Mustangs!). We practiced 3-4 hours every day and played tournaments every weekend. The warm-up exercises we did during the PRO session reminded me of PETE Camp, a tennis “boot camp” created by my tennis coach, Coach Pete. Not only did we train our bodies through dynamic stretching, plyometric exercises, and agility workouts, we did mental exercises like meditation, reflection and journaling. Coach Pete would say, “It’s all mental. If you can beat your opponent mentally, get into their head, you win.” And it’s true. That’s how we were able to win second in State, do crazy things like hold 7-8 minute planks, play 8-hour matches and still stay sane to love the game! Ten years later, I’m 27 years old and still playing, training in the mental and physical game, but now with dance.

So, how IS my current training going with my constantly full schedule? I give myself a B-. Physically, I’m doing enough to maintain, but not to excel. I’m at a comfortable physical state. I’m at my ideal weight, my energy level is high, and I sleep and eat well. I have my routine down. I’m good, but not great. As Keone stated in the mini-documentary, "Comfort is a great feeling, but it's a place that growth does not exist." After meeting Keone and Mari, I’m inspired to push myself to grow as a dancer and as an athlete again.

As Mari also noted during the Q&A at REVEAL, another element of achieving physical health is our diet. Our diet is our eating habit, not just some regimen (like vegan, paleo, keto, etc) we put ourselves under. It’s how we fuel our bodies to enjoy all that life has to offer! One thing that’s certainly different from my teenage tennis days is MY BODY! I can’t eat whatever I want anymore. My joints ache more easily and it takes longer to recover from a long workout/intensive if I don’t eat right. I accepted this reality when I turned 25. So, for the sake of longevity (and simply to feel better), I now prepare ahead of time to ensure my body is fueled for crazy weekends like these. For example, here’s what I ate during REVEAL:

Friday:

Breakfast- 1 pint salmon salad including green beans, red skin potatoes, 1 egg, and cherry tomatoes, and ¼ cup chia seed pudding from Farmer’s Fridge

Lunch- 2 homemade tacos with corn and black bean salsa

Early Dinner- 1 cup spinach ravioli with pasta sauce

Snack/Late Dinner- a banana with 2 tbsp of peanut butter, Kirkland’s seaweed, Rx Bar, Vital Reds Polyphenol Blend drink mix.

*Definitely didn’t get enough sleep, but staying up late for the PRO session was totally worth it!*

Saturday:

Breakfast- 16 oz green smoothie

Snack- Rx Bar, coconut water

Lunch- Half a turkey & cheese sandwich, a clementine, finished the coconut water

Snack/Early Dinner- ½ pint blueberries, 1/3 cup chocolate covered pretzels, a banana with 2 tbsp peanut butter

Late Dinner- Vietnamese Pho noodles- YUM!

*After I ate and showered, I went and slept for 10 hours! It was indeed a much needed rest after 15 hours of dancing!*

So, what’s next? How do I plan to apply what I’ve learned? Here’s my SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) goal and strategy to do grow as a dancer/athlete this Fall:

  1. Do a 30 minute work-out after work on Thursdays (my only night off from all other activities).

  2. Lead 30 minute dynamic warm-up exercises for my team before rehearsals every Sunday.

  3. Reflect and journal after each class and performance.

These are simple, but realistic and attainable steps to ensure growth for the season that I’m in. Hopefully by the end of 2017, I can give myself a B+!

What are your goals to improve your physical and mental health this season? Comment below and let’s encourage each other! Don’t wait until 2018. We can start now!

PS- A HUGE shout out goes to creator of REVEAL, Monyett Crump, who spent his 21st birthday weekend selflessly giving back to the community by putting together this wonderful event. Monyett, you are an extraordinary role model and servant leader in our community! I can’t wait to see what blessings are in stored for you in your career and life in the coming years. God bless!

PSS- Also shout out to instructors previously not mentioned including Ian Eastwood, Julian Carmolinga, and Chris Xayarath. You all are an inspiration!

©2017 by Rhythm & Nutrition