Most ensembles begin rehearsal “in block” to stretch, warm up and rehearse fundamentals. As the season progresses, time for basics block may get shorter, but daily fundamentals are essential for growth. Here are some tips for fitting it all in.
Break It Up. Choose a set of basics you will do every day as a warm-up such as drop spins, flourishes and pull-hits on flag or hand spins, flourishes and tosses on rifle. Generally, these fundamentals help build strength and increase flexibility, so they need daily rehearsal. Many instructors also include high-risk skills such as tosses or difficult combinations during the daily block.
As time becomes limited, create a schedule for fitting in additional exercises on specific days. For example, on Tuesday add a flag carving exercise, on Wednesday stops on rifle, etc. Don’t be afraid to change things up to increase demand or isolate a particularly troublesome skill.
Layer Body. Layer your movement fundamentals under equipment fundamentals to save time once you’ve mastered both separately. For example, add a series of tendu and passé beneath your daily drop spins. Layer plié and relevé beneath your carving exercises, and rehearse a box formation with a proper jazz step beneath speed spins. You’ll be surprised at how fast your show will clean up once your body is used to performing both upper and lower body responsibilities simultaneously.
Multitask. Use any downtime when the director is working with another section to catch up on a few more exercises (just get his/her permission first). Instead of just standing and waiting, section leaders or captains can lead the rest of the section in a neglected fundamental exercise.
Practice at Home. There’s just no escaping it; you must make time to rehearse at home. Each day during your favorite half-hour TV show or while reading that chapter for history class, stretch to increase flexibility and reduce the chance of injury. Your performance will benefit from your commitment and discipline.