I’m pleased to post today’s Conversation Sunday piece – A Q&A session with Kate Crews-Linsley. Kate was a soloist with Ballet West for ten seasons, just recently retiring in June of 2010. Prior to her 10 years with Ballet West, Ms. Crews studied with Pacific Northwest Ballet and danced with Kansas City Ballet for 5 seasons. With many years of training, performing, and traveling, she was brought to yoga when searching for a balance in her career. She has been practicing yoga for 10 years and teaching for 6. Kate currently works with D’ana Baptiste directing the Inbody Outreach, a non-profit that connects therapy programs and existing service programs to skilled yoga teachers. Her passion is to connect all that might benefit from yoga for recovery including those that may not be able to afford it. Also, Kate currently volunteers her services at the University of Utah, Utah Health and Human Rights and the Rape Recovery Center.
dancehealthier – As a dancer promoting a balance of self and self image can be difficult. How do you feel, based on your experience and knowledge, this can be achieved all while pleasing the staff, audience and your peers?
Kate – Well, as you know, ballet is a constant balance of our interpretation of the work as artists against the choreographer, or even director. As dancers we portray the vision of the choreography and bring it to life. This is where I see the connection to sense of self. When working so passionately to share your artistry and constantly having others judge it, good and bad, you can start to wonder if there is always true ownership over your work and artistry. As professional ballet dancers we are also upholding an image. Having our bodies look a certain way, to meet the needs of artistic staff as well as simply fitting into the “look” of the company is hard to translate. However, not all of this is negative. It creates the beauty that is ballet. But, where does the sense of self-fit into all of this? This is where the balancing has to take place. We have to become and stay secure in what we have to offer as our self (what our gifts are as individual dancers and own that wholeheartedly). Not all dancers will fit into all parts all the time. Understanding this and having a solid sense of self and knowing what your strengths are as a dancer will help this translation. As hard as it is to get caught up in trying to be everything to everyone all this time is not balanced. Be the strongest dancer in your strengths and that should always prove to be the best self-confidence booster.
dancehealthier – How important is it to reiterate staying “in your body” when you feel like it has to be lived in an image of what a dancer should look like? What are the tools for this?
Kate – I think this is one of the most important things to do as a dancer and one of the hardest things to maintain (and while I was dancing I could have used some guidance with this). What happens sometimes is that the body or “image” we are trying to create becomes more important than the reality and the strength of our own body. One might think, “If we could just go to the gym one more time this week or cut something out of our diet, maybe this image would become perfect.” These habits, motions, and actions actually get us more out of our bodies, which ultimately disrupts the nurturing process of the body. By nurturing your body with healthy foods and proper rest it needs to get through a day is ultimately the better answer, for both short and long term longevity. So listening to your body is super important. Also, maintaining a healthy mind is just as important. When you are balancing stress, choreography and long hours, letting your mind rest is a must. Conscious awareness of breath can be the best way to get back into your body – just to feel the energy you produce inside yourself. The beautiful thing about this is that you create this energy and breath which remains constant. It cannot be changed or altered by anyone else. Pranayama (breath work) is great for this (Click for dancehealthier’s post on this technique HERE). All this means is to find a moment of quite and breathe. Simply quite the mind, the constant chatter, so you can think again.
A great exercise is to count your breath. An inhale for 6 counts (longer or shorter is fine) and an exhale for 6 counts (do this for at least 5 rounds and chill for a bit after).
Stay tuned for next week’s Conversation Sunday piece, From Dancer to Health Promoter Part 2 with Kate Crews-Linsley for a more in depth look at her transition from a ballerina to a specialized yoga health promoter. Dancehealthier applauds her efforts and feels fortunate to spread her greatness.
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