Tuesday, July 5, 2011

NGB guest blog: a day in the life of a dancer

by Amber Shriver, Patel Conservatory ballet intensive student and intern

The best way to wake up:
a skim caramel macchiato
6:30-7:30 a.m. My morning starts with a half hour workout on the hotel elliptical. I shower, get dressed, put my hair up in a bun and head out the door by 7:30 a.m. for a 10-minute walk to my favorite Tampa coffee shop, Indigo Coffee.
7:30-9:00 a.m. After my morning latte, I walk across the street to Sacred Heart Catholic Church for adoration. This is a habit that I got into at my very first summer intensive at Boston Conservatory when I was 15. It’s 15 minutes of my day where I spend time to put things in perspective and to remind myself about what is really important. After lighting a candle for my Confirmation Sponsor, my family, and my friends who are back home in Maryland, I walk back to Patel Conservatory for breakfast. After breakfast, I talk to the head RA, Brandon, to see if there is anything else I need to do.
Sacred Heart Catholic Church - a downtown place to reflect
9:00-11:00 a.m. I head downstairs to the dance studios at Patel Conservatory to get ready for class. I do exercises to warm-up my feet, legs and core while drinking coffee and listening to loud and upbeat music to wake up my brain. I also focus on making sure that the muscles in the back of my legs are activated and that my core is strong since those are my biggest technical weaknesses.
Theraband exercises to strengthen my
At 9:30 a.m., my day officially starts with an hour and a half ballet technique class. During class, we do exercises both to strengthen our muscles and help our brains learn combinations faster. I really enjoy class because it gives me a lot of time to just focus on my technique, which you don’t always get in rehearsals. This can get frustrating, because I have to do the same exercises over and over again until they are perfect. However, the hard work and discipline are worth it, when I can see the changes in both my technique and the shape of my muscles.

11 a.m.-12 p.m. After class, I work as an administrative intern in the dance department.  After college, I’d like to continue growing the dance company I started, until I can support myself full-time by being its artistic director and performer. This means not only working to improve my technique as much as possible in the next two years, but also learning as much as I can about how to run a successful company. Luckily, I have a great supervisor Ashley Hilton, who provides an excellent example of how to deal with uncooperative vendors, upset parents and students, as well as the amount of effort and planning it takes to make the Summer Intensive run so smoothly.
Part of my job as an intern is to help make sure that lunch for
150 students in Morsani Cafe runs smoothly

Fellow RA, Chris, with his
12-1:00 p.m. After my internship, I grab a quick half hour lunch and catch up with my RA friends Taylor and Chris. 
Stretching before class

1:00-4:30 p.m. Next, I head off to re-warm up for my second ballet technique class of the day. I spend half an hour stretching and loosening my muscles for class. After technique class I take pointe, which is my favorite part of ballet. The pointe classes are very good for strengthening my ankles and getting them ready to do more difficult work on stage. After pointe class, I have a variations, choreography or a repertory class, where I learn pieces that I will perform in the Summer Showcase on July 29th at Ferguson Hall. Performing is really is what makes all the hard work worth it.

Copying programs for marketing
4:30-6 p.m. After I finish dance classes I head downstairs to the marketing department for my marketing internship. During my time downstairs, I help create programs, file, and edit videos from events at the Patel Conservatory. I really try to use my time in the department as efficiently as possible by asking questions and observing. I look forward to using the things I learn to market my own company in the future.

Isn't my baby cupcake super cute!

6-7 p.m. I head over to the restaurant for dinner. It’s super nice to catch up with my friends and see all my residents, most of whom I do not see during the day.

7-12:30 p.m. After dinner, I do different things depending on the day. I may go out to eat with my RA friends to celebrate something good that has happened in their lives; I may stay in and do “glamorous things” such as laundry and sewing pointe shoes; or I may run fun activities for my residents such as going to the pool or the mall, going to CVS, or just watching TV together.
CVS trip with Patel Conservatory ballet intensive students/residents

At 9 p.m., I do a final room check and wish all my residents a good night. Then I go to my room to stretch and do core exercises, while watching ballet videos or TV shows with Taylor and Chris. After that I catch up on things I need to do for my own dance company like choreography for Nutcracker or writing grant requests. After writing in my journal and writing down my corrections for the day, I ice my ankle which has been sore lately. Finally, I crawl into bed no later than 12:30 a.m. and fall asleep very quickly so that I can wake up tomorrow and do it all over again.

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