I've recently become acquainted a researcher named Mike Barnes who is, fascinatingly, focuses on dancers from an anthropological perspective. He poses thought-provoking questions on his blog and I've responded to a few of his posts, hoping to help in his research. One post got me thinking about the cycle of class, rehearsal, and performance.
Class is my constant; it is the food I live on as a dancer, and as a person. Class is my anchor; it gives me structure and I can rely on it to complete my day. The reality is, given the limitations of my schedule due to juggling a corporate job with dancing, I sometimes have to choose between class and rehearsal. The truth is, I never feel complete if I haven't had class. It doesn't even have to be dance class; it can be cross-training, but as long as it's class that makes me sweat bullets I am satisfied.
If I don't have a choice, I give myself class in my room. (I'm beginning to fear that I'm wearing a big divot into my carpet and floor.) When I was traveling abroad for work and living out of a suitcase, I got up at 6:00am each morning to give myself class before work, and ran on a treadmill for one hour after work. I'm not a fan of running, but it was the only way to maintain any kind of endurance. No matter how tired and beat up I felt, I was resolute in keeping this up. This served a psychological purpose, too: it was a way to establish a routine away from home, and fulfill me in some way when I couldn't dance like I wanted to. It definitely helped me sleep!
Still, even my strict regimen cannot replace class for any considerable period of time. Even though performance may be the end goal, class gives structure to the body and mind. Class makes the rhythm of my days. It's painful to go without.