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Ahhh the smell of the ice...

Ahhh the smell of the ice….

Hockey had its own smells and sounds that take you back to the rink. We've all heard those nostalgic phrases taking us back to the smell of the ice, the sound of skates cutting the ice, or a successful slapshot, you know… and the crowd roars!  Are you feeling in chilly now? Can you smell the arena? Do you wish you were in a crowd of cheering fans?

Like hockey, dancers have their own rituals and familiar sensations.  Ever wonder what that's like for a dancer?

The barre.  Something I miss is the feel of my studio’s wooden ballet barres.  I would put my hands on the barre and know I was about to get better. Jazz and ballet had set barre exercises I was taught at the beginning of the year, and they became familiar and almost comfortable (except for my muscles burning and all that!)  But after I transitioned into a teaching career, I don’t get that same ritual and I do miss it!

The car.  Oh yes, the car.  On the way to dance, my mom had prepared epic dinners in air-tight Tupperware, circa 1988.  On the way to dance from school, I often had to put my hair in a bun and eat! And chat. It was a great time to connect.

More food.  Before competitions, we had specific smoothies and snacks that I superstitiously ingested.  I thought it was good luck. Turned out it was just good food science! Dancers often eat this and that at specific times to help endurance and mental focus, but it often becomes a bit of a ritual.  Some dancers have a big post-performance meal ritual!

Make-Up.   I always did my right eye first, then my left.  I preferred a certain mirror, brushes and the works.  When I was young, I loved having my mom do my make-up.  She was so good at it. And it was just so cool:) As I got older, and did it by myself, it was a nice and quiet time to collect my thoughts and prepare.  

The lobby.  I see so many different after-stage rituals in the lobbies of theatres in shows and competitions.  I see anything from giant pick-me-up hugs, to “WOW!” to “I LOVED IT” and so on. My dad would always fake-tap-dance and then ask for my autograph on a program.   Over the years I went from “That’s so funny, Dad!” to “Daaaaaaauhhhhhd. Stoppppp ittttttt!” and then to, “There he goes again, but the awesomeness of it all makes me feel special.”  Flowers, hugs, selfies, groupies it’s a great time.

Friends.  I love watching when my students return for summer classes or return after, winter or summer break.  That’s when you can see the most, how much they miss each other. When their routine hang-outs at class are back in sessions!

Summer.  The time when a new routine breaks in.  You have more energy for your camps and classes and you have more time to set goals and try new things.  I loved my summers for dance. I still got to dance, but it was more on my terms. I had more time to stretch, to work out and to try new things at camps.  We didn’t have air-conditioning back then, so it was hot and it made us all crazy! Those were some fun times.

I can’t even imagine all the rituals of dancers, what brings them back to those good old days of hot summer dance classes, with friends and teachers, getting ready to show loved ones what they can do!  We don’t have “the smell of the ice.” But the barre, and friends, and lobbies, and all of that, can really take you back to those days. For my current dancers, hold on to those moments and enjoy them to their fullest.  Before I finish, I will leave all of you former-dancers with 2 words. Bobby pins.


By: Kristin Werner

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