Recital Rescues

June 15, 2015

You’ve practiced your choreography half a million times, organized your costumes in show order and made checklist after checklist including every detail imaginable. But just because you’re prepared doesn’t mean last-minute catastrophes can’t come up. Don’t let backstage blunders bring you down! Dance Spirit has four solutions to your worst recital nightmares.

(Photo by Jean Cliclac/Thinkstock)

The crisis
: Tech week got the best of your feet, and one of your calluses has split. It feels like there’s a shard of glass jammed between your toes. How are you supposed to continue dancing barefoot?

The quick fix
: First, clean out the split with soap and water. Dry it completely and apply a liquid bandage (we love New-Skin) over the surface of the callus. If the split is deep, hold the two sides together for about a minute while the product dries. If you’re nervous about the liquid bandage stinging, Steri-Strip Skin Closures are a good alternative.

The crisis
: You have a quick change between your solo and a group routine. Your friends help you pull on your black spandex costume—and, whoops, there are deodorant streaks everywhere.

The quick fix
: Rub an extra pair of tights over any white marks and watch them disappear in a flash!

The crisis
: After spending the better part of an hour getting your face stage-ready, you catch yourself looking like a raccoon mid-show. You don’t have time redo your makeup.

The quick fix
: Swipe some clear lip balm underneath each eye and wipe it away with a tissue. The lip balm will take any smudged makeup with it. (Don’t have lip balm? Vaseline or lotion will work, too.)

The crisis
: You got your period—and your costume is a white leotard.

The quick fix
: Run the stained fabric under cold water and rub it between your fingers. Or, if you have contact-lens solution handy, squirt some onto the stain and massage it away. (The salt content ups the water’s stain-fighting power.) Make sure not to use hot water! It could make the stain permanent.

Think Fast
: Sometimes, you need to create on the fly—like when asked to improvise at an audition. How can you prep your brain to avoid the dreaded blank-out? Try this mind-stretching exercise from Dr. Shelley H. Carson’s Your Creative Brain.

Pick any letter.

Set a timer for three minutes and write down

as many nouns as you can think of that start with that letter.

When the timer goes off, set it for another three minutes and put the

words you listed into two categories.

(For example, if you’ve come up with words like trumpet, trombone, turkey, tomato, tangerine and tambourine, you can separate them into “instruments” and “foods.”)

Set the timer for one more three-minute session, and put the words into two completely new categories. (Instead of instruments and foods, categorize by color. Trumpets, trombones, turkey and tambourines are more neutral, while tangerines and tomatoes are vibrant colors.)

This exercise forces you to think beyond your comfort zone under a time constraint. When you categorize your list a second time, you’ll probably feel like you’re making a bit of a stretch (like comparing the color of turkey to the color of a trombone!), but that’s the point. When you improv or choreograph under time pressure, it’s often the odd—even downright awkward—moments that make a phrase interesting and memorable.

Did You Know?

Your pre-performance superstitions may help you dance better. According to sports psychologists, athletes who engage in pre-game rituals or routines tend to perform with greater confidence, focus and emotional stability. So whether it’s a go-to pump-up song or lucky pre-show snack, go ahead and give in to your backstage superstitions.

(Photo by Erin Baiano)

Your Aches and Pains Addressed: Plantar Fasciitis

What is it?

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia—connective tissue that runs from your big toe to your pinky toe to your heel, forming a triangle along the bottom of your foot. The plantar fascia helps stabilize and support the bones of your foot when you relevé or jump.

What causes it?

When the bones of the foot and/or ankle are misaligned, they can pull abnormally on the plantar fascia, creating micro-tears throughout the tissue. Weakness in other parts of the body—such as the back, abdominals and hips—can also place too much stress on the plantar fascia.

What are the symptoms?

The pain tends to localize around the inside of the heel at the bottom of your arch. You’ll feel it the most when you first get up in the morning, or when you stand up after sitting for a while. When you sit or lie down, your ankles tend to relax in a slightly pointed position, and this causes the fascia to shorten. Standing up forces the fascia to stretch underneath your weight, causing the micro-tears that are the source of inflammation.

How to deal

Place arch supports in your shoes to keep your arches from collapsing as the plantar fascia heals itself. (Tape can take the place of arch supports in dance shoes.) Before you get out of bed in the morning, point and flex your feet a few times, stretch your calves and pull back your toes while you massage your arches. This will help warm up the plantar fascia. When you’re done dancing for the day, be sure to ice your arch for 20 minutes to reduce inflammation. If symptoms persist for two to three weeks, consult a physical therapist. She’ll be able to tell you if there are any skeletal misalignments or muscular imbalances behind the strain.

Got a nasty sunburn?
Gently dab chilled black tea over the affected skin with a washcloth. The tea’s tannins will help the burn heal more quickly—hopefully before you hit the stage in that scratchy sequined costume!