Quinn Wharton

5 Ways to "Marie Kondo" Your Dance Life

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

Celia Spenard-Ko/Unsplash

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

Matthew Murphy

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

Meghan Holmes/Unsplash

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

Chouaib Brik/Unsplash

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.

Category 5: Friends

Quinn Wharton

Research shows that emotions ripple throughout groups of people. It doesn't matter whether it's happiness, nerves or feeling motivated, we very easily pick up on the vibes of those around us. Even just placing yourself near a high-performing colleague can improve your own performance—but the opposite is equally true, with toxic co-workers' attitudes being dangerously contagious.

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.

Latest Posts


Clockwise from top left: Photo by Loreto Jamlig, Courtesy Ladies of Hip-Hop; Wikimedia Commons; Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet; Natasha Razina, Courtesy State Academic Mariinsky Theatre; Photo by Will Mayer for Better Half Productions, Courtesy ABT

The 10 Biggest Dance Stories of 2019

What were the dance moments that defined 2019? The stories that kept us talking, week after week? According to our top-clicked articles of the year, they ranged from explorations of dance medicine and dance history, takedowns of Lara Spencer and companies who still charge dancers to audition, and, of course, our list of expert tips on how to succeed in dance today.

We compiled our 10 biggest hits of the year, and broke down why we think they struck a chord:

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Nichols

I Am a Black Dancer Who Was Dressed Up in Blackface to Perform in La Bayadère

On Instagram this week, Misty Copeland reposted a picture of two Russian ballerinas covered head to toe in black, exposing the Bolshoi's practice of using blackface in the classical ballet La Bayadère. The post has already received over 60,000 likes and 2,000 comments, starting a long overdue conversation.

Comments have been pouring in from every angle imaginable: from history lessons on black face, to people outside of the ballet world expressing disbelief that this happens in 2019, to castigations of Copeland for exposing these young girls to the line of fire for what is ultimately the Bolshoi's costuming choice, to the accusations that the girls—no matter their cultural competence—should have known better.

I am a black dancer, and in 2003, when I was 11 years old, I was dressed up in blackface to perform in the Mariinsky Ballet's production of La Bayadère.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS

Here's the First Trailer for the "In the Heights" Movie

Lights up on Washington Heights—because the trailer for the movie adaptation of the hit Broadway musical In the Heights has arrived. It's our first look into Lin-Manuel Miranda's latest venture into film—because LMM isn't stopping at three Tony awards, a Grammy award, and an Emmy.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS
contest
Enter Our Video Contest