How Weightlifting Is Making Me A Better Dance Soloist

It’s Friday. The lifting team is amped up for “Max Night”. The energy is high. Everyone is setting Personal Records and lifting more than they ever have before. I raise my hand to signal to my coach I’m ready. “QUIET FOR PATRICIA” He yells and the room goes quiet. Like PIN DROP quiet. Every time one of us goes for a PR, everyone in the room stops and the world goes silent. I hate this moment.

Back story: I won’t go into the whole sob story about never being chosen for the solos or even the duets growing up. There were reasons for that that we don’t need to go into here, but what the lack of experience for preforming solos in my early years gave me was a pretty deep rooted complex about taking up time on stage. Going into post secondary school training, I never quite shook that feeling.

The few times I was given an opportunity to preform short solos at LADMMI (the school I attended and graduated from in Montreal) the racket that I would run in my head was “hurry up and finish it, so you don’t bore people”. No one ever told me this, it was something I told myself. It would result in an under whelming performance and in turn result in a life of group numbers and chorus work. Choreographers didn’t want to award the solo to the girl who seemed uncomfortable in her own skin.

The “rushing through a solo” complex is a common issue and feeling among young dancers. I know many out there will sympathize with the sentiment. This is a complex I should have gotten over years ago, but in this I am a late bloomer. I lacked the confidence to settle in and “do the job fully, in the right time”.

I know what you’re thinking.
– What the “H” does this have to do with weightlifting?
– I’m getting there.

More Back Story: A couple months ago I made the switch from Crossfit*, which I fell in love with at first box-jump, to weightlifting. Olympic Style Weightlifting to be exact and I now train 5 days a week in solely that. And it’s hard. Like, really hard.

I’m only being slightly dramatic when I say “dancing is the hardest thing in the whole world to do” and now I can add to that by saying “and weightlifting is the second hardest thing in the whole world to do”. ** I found it! I found the second hardest thing in the world to do, and now it’s my goal to do it and do it as much as possible. A big goal of mine for 2015 is to compete in an OLY competition. My stretch goal is to qualify for provincials. That second goal is ridiculous and the chances of it happening are slim, but I’m crazy enough to try!

– PATRICIA, What the “H” does this have to do with you being a better soloist?

Since graduating from LADMMI I have had more chances than ever to be a soloist. To have solos, to dance solos, to create solos. The majority of my adult life has actually been preforming solo. I have made leaps and bounds in that department. In the past 8 years I’ve preformed more as a soloist than with other dancers. Solo work has become a huge focus of my creating and preforming life. I’m learning to cultivate “soloing” as a craft of it’s own, BUT through all of this there is still that little voice that hides in the depths of my sub-conscious and yells “hurry up and finish it, so you don’t bore people”.

-PATTY CAKES, Get to the part where weightlifting makes a difference.
-FINE! Back to where we started.

The room is quiet because I’m going for a new Personal Record. I would prefer everyone keep doing what they’re doing instead of stop to watch and because everyone has stopped to watch, that little voice kicks in telling me to rush and get it over with-

This is the moment when weightlifting is exactly the same as standing on stage about to start a solo.

But you know what? You can’t rush a lift.You can’t fake a lift. The weight either goes up or it doesn’t. You either perfectly coordinate the pull, with the jump, with the shrug, with getting under it or you don’t. What I’m trying to do when the weightlifting room goes quiet is put 140lbs over my head. YOU DON’T HAVE TIME TO LISTEN TO THAT LITTLE VOICE IN YOUR HEAD OR THIS WON’T HAPPEN. You need focus. Pure focus.

And real talk- I don’t have time for that little voice in my head when I’m about to start a solo either. When I’m about to preform work that I’ve spent months preparing, cultivating and creating. And this is the realization I’ve finally let sink in. The old ah-ha moment. I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT LITTLE VOICE IN MY HEAD.

I by no means have fully beat that little guy in my subconscious. It will keep creeping it’s way back in to my head time and time again, but every time the weightlifting room goes quiet I get an opportunity to practice silencing it. I have the opportunity to help prepare my mind to get the job done. To be ready for every solo I am going to dance. I have the opportunity to learn how to “do the job fully, in the right time”.There will be good days and there will be bad days, but it helps. In it’s own way weightlifting is making me abetter dance soloist. It’s giving me the confidence to take my time and fully execute my moment that I’ve worked so hard to prepare for.

-P, Thanks for sharing that story.
-Thanks for reading 🙂

*I still adore Crossfit more than I can describe and often choke up when I think about how much I miss it, but that’s a different story. I’ll tell it to you some day.
** I haven’t actually tried to doEVERYTHING in the world yet so this is based on my personal experiences.

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