If everyone seems a bit obsessed with tidying up right now, blame the trendy Japanese organizing guru Marie Kondo. Her uber-popular book-turned-Netflix-show has so many people purging their closets that thrift stores can no longer keep up with the donations. The reason? Fans are falling in love with what Kondo calls "the life-changing magic of tidying up."
So could her philosophy help dancers with their often packed, exhausting dance lives? Try a few of these adapted strategies from her KonMari Method, and decide for yourself.
Category 1: Clothing
First, for the classic KonMarie: Take all of your dance gear out of your closet and dance bag, and pile it into one big mountain. Have a good look at how much you own. Pick each item up one-by-one and ask yourself Kondo's favorite question: "Does this spark joy?" Maybe it gives you confidence, maybe it serves you as the required uniform for class, maybe it keeps your knees safe for floorwork.
Or maybe it's not something you love. Physical clutter has been shown to make us more stressed out, so if an item doesn't spark joy when you hold it in your hands, take a moment to appreciate how it's served you in the past, and then let it go. Donate it if it's still useable, or consider recycling old fabrics (we're looking at you, smelly ballet slippers). This will give you more physical and mental space to cherish the dance gear you use regularly.
Category 2: Classes
Write down what your ideal week of training would look like. What classes would further your career and get you excited to enter the studio every day? Envision your best lineup, then ask yourself: How does this compare to the classes I actually take?
Maybe you find yourself avoiding the ballet classes you know you need in favor of fun hip-hop classes with friends. Maybe you're going to the same teacher every week, even though you know a new instructor could challenge you in new ways.
Tidy up your schedule to focus on what matters most. If there are classes that you know you should drop, recognize what you've gotten out of them, maybe even thank the teacher in person, then make a conscious decision to let them go in favor of training that will push your career forward.
Category 3: Cross-Training
There are many ways dancers can cross-train to grow stronger and more resilient in the dance studio. But not all exercise is created equal.
Take stock of all the workouts you're doing, and list what you love about each one. Does anything come to mind for those 30 minutes you force yourself through on the elliptical? If not, abandon it and experiment with new ways to build your cardio—maybe it's running, rowing or biking. You'll get more out of your cross-training when you're not phoning it in. And remember: Sometimes you're better off using that extra hour to rest and recover.
Category 4: Jobs
Dancers have a habit if saying "yes" to just about every opportunity offered. Even if it doesn't add value to your career, or life, or bank account, it can feel like you're missing out if you decline. Too many of us feel like being busy equates to being successful. So we dance for the friend who asks us to perform in her festival, we take part in that film shoot "for the experience."
But the more you've got going on, the less energy and time you can devote to what matters most. Make sure every gig you take on is something that drives your career in the direction you want (and, yes, it's totally fair if that direction is "more financially stable"). Dance is a career you pursue out of passion, so each job should be something you treasure.
Be picky about who you spend your time with in and out of the studio. Of course, you can't simply ignore all your negative colleagues, but prioritize those who bring out the best in you. Place yourself next to the most driven dancers at the barre, and choose to spend your free time with inspiring friends. You'll pick up on positive energy without even realizing it—and find joy sparked when you least expect it.
Mention "flamenco" to anyone in the Cuban dance scene, and they are likely to bring up Irene Rodríguez. Artistic director of Compañía Irene Rodríguez, Cuba's premiere flamenco company, Rodríguez has shared the stage with such renowned flamenco artists as Eva Yerbabuena, María Juncal and Antonio Gades. She is also a faculty member at Havana's Fernando Alonso National Ballet School, and has served as a choreography consultant at Ballet Nacional de Cuba.
Irina Kolpakova in the studio with Katherine Williams. Photo by Quinn Wharton for Pointe.
Being coached by a treasure like former Kirov prima Irina Kolpakova is an experience most dancers only dream of. But company members at American Ballet Theatre have been the lucky beneficiaries of her wisdom since 1990. Thanks to Instagram, where pros like Gillian Murphy and James Whiteside share snippets of their sessions with Kolpakova, any ballet lover can be a fly on the wall during rehearsals with the famed ballet mistress.