2020 Dance Resolutions LEGO!!

Introduction

A short and sweet post about what I’m looking to accomplish this year and how I’m looking to accomplish these things. Hoping to hear from y’all about what you’re trying to accomplish as well in the New year! I’ve been thinking about leadership a lot so I’ve divided my goals into two parts. One as an Instructor and scene leader. Then my other part is as a dancer and performer. I’ve used to lump my performance goals up with my teaching goals but as I’ve been feeling more of a pull to cultivate those who are in proximity to me I felt it was appropriate. I’ve written in the past about dance resolutions which was usually due to not attending Focus. This year I attended my first one and so here we are…15 days into the new year.

Goals: Instructor/Scene Leader
Coach more dancers
Teach at 4 out of town workshop weekends
Teach 2 improvisational Solo Jazz classes and 1 original routine class
Do 3 Historical/cultural talks
Teach more rhythm focused classes.

 

Dancer/Performer goals:
learn 3 time step variations (1 of 3) Buck Single Time step
Learn to dance with more chill but still maintain punchy aesthetic
Look like you’re on balance more
add 1-3 complex shapes to your bag of flash
Be proactive in improving your partnering
participate in a tap jam

Action Steps:
Film more of my social dancing and breaking down the video

Actually take weekend trips out of town to train with people

Host Practice groups and other gatherings

Continue to bet on yourself by contacting organizers for gigs and setting up your own opportunities locally.

 

Let’s Cultivate, Rather than Build a Mental Pondering Written Out

Introduction

2019 has come and gone and it was certainly a memorable year. I took the leap and decided to become self employed as a fitness professional and Jazz Dancer/Instructor. For the most part, I haven’t been happier. There have been rough spots, but overall it has been rewarding. I formulated some personal and professional relationships that I’m super excited to see grow. While at Focus, I found myself thinking of the word cultivate a lot going into 2020.

Cultivation takes time

I’m good at many things but never been good at doing things in a short period of time. Unless it was sprinting, but yeah… I’ve never been someone who could make an extremely big impression on others or complete projects in a short period of time. It takes time for me to develop a plan or skill of some kind to accomplish a particular goal. I make mistakes, I get scared and back down from doing something that’s right or I’ll be stubborn and keep doing the incorrect thing. Yet in the right state of mind I know skill acquisition is cultivation. Like the land that’s cultivated for crops, you must revisit that soil and work it over time so it’ll be ready for planting, and you must water and treat the crops.

Cultivation takes flexibility

Building a structure lends very little nuance in execution. If something must be redone or changed it’s going to be costly in regards to time, money and building materials. The plans and process to build a structure is rather static if you think about it and once the building is built at least in the United States very little time and money is put into maintaining it. Cultivating people, places, things, ideas etc it’ll be necessary to look at the plan if you’re getting a particular result that isn’t want you intended that isn’t beneficial. You have to be flexible to adjust and pivot your thought process to get to where you’re going. Many times in my life I’ve had to analyze my circumstances or my shortcomings and alter what I was doing to get a more sufficient result. 

Cultivation is leading through service and cooperation

When I titled this section, the Boss vs. Leader meme came to mind. The boss is on the carriage giving orders to their subordinates, while in the next panel, the leader is pulling the carriage in front of their subordinates. I think for me, when folks are building, they’re providing a vision and resources for others to make things happen, which is good, but why not take things a step forward and provide environments, resources and direction? Why not lend yourself to learn from those who are working on things outside your skill set and give your time to them and show your appreciation? Being able to take the time to live life side by side with those around you will allow you to grow and others to shine and just breathe more life into an environment.

Conclusion

Be dynamic in your leadership, aim to set aside the time, be flexible and live life with those around you. I can speak on this, how it looks in the dance community and as a fitness professional, but for right now this is just a mental spark that I had while at Focus.

 

Client Stories: Kat Rose

I have been training with Shelby as a remote trainer for 6 months. My primary goal was to balance out muscular imbalances that had caused serious lower back pain. And to get aesthetic af.

Shelby was amazing away listening to my goals, concerns, and limitations,  and helping to craft programming to fit for needs.  This was especially comforting coming from a point of over-use injuries in my previous training experiences.

Other results: lost 10lbs, improved upper body posture, eliminated lower back pain.
There were several unexpected benefits, if I’m honest. The most useful one was response time. I would generally expect a trainer to get back to my questions within a few business days. Shelby would always get back the same day, and often within the same hour for quick questions, and if it were a longer question, would schedule a time for us to call and discuss. This meant he even edited my programming on the fly a few times when I found the exercise I was doing wouldn’t work with my limitations, and the exercises he changed them to were perfect.
As for results: not only did I attain my goal of fixing many of my muscular imbalances, Shelby gave me several activation exercises to help build up my struggling muscle groups. Several times when I was doing these activation exercises and the dynamic stretches, trainers at my gym would come ask me about them, and compliment my programming.
The amount of attention and care Shelby gives his clients is amazing, and that is an enormous selling point to me. This care translates into consistent follow ups, check ins, and brilliant programming.
This was my first time working with a trainer remotely, and it was 100% worth it. I come from a fitness background myself of teaching kickboxing fitness for the last 6 years. Shelby always had something to teach me and share and encourage me with, and for someone with as much experience in fitness as me, that is seriously impressive.
Shelby is an amazing example of the walk and the talk. Seeing him post on social media about his progress, struggles, successes, goals, etc was a constant reminder and encouragement to me that fitness is a journey, not a destination.

If you’re looking to get results like Kat’s fill out my Google Form so we can set up for remote training or in person as a ways to achieve your fitness goals.

Well That Didn’t Go as I had Hoped LOL

Introduction

In life, things don’t always go as we hope they would. This adage is true more often for some people than others. For me, that was this past weekend at ILHC. I didn’t make finals in any of the competitions I competed in and didn’t feel anywhere near my best. The Solo Jazz comp was me more focused on not vomiting. My body seemed to go haywire from flying in the same day and then competing. After that, I had one shoelace snap before Strictly prelims and the other before Advanced Draw prelims. During Draw prelims, I got stepped on and nearly lost my shoe during the first song, while I wasn’t in sync with my partner or the music. It’s safe to say almost everything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong; but surprisingly, I was laughing about it, as some of these things have happened before. I could’ve easily just been upset and feel that all the time I’ve spent over this year training my dancing was a waste, but nah. This weekend was a great success in ways that really contests can’t always show.

Define What Success Is to you

In the many sports psychology classes I’ve taken while getting my Bachelors and Masters degrees in coaching, it’s common that you figure out how to define success for you as a coach and your athletes that isn’t just winning. With dance contests this year, I’ve started doing this more intentionally rather than as a way to make it seem like I lost graciously; because that has been an issue in the past….not proud of it.  Success can be how well you perform under stressful, unforeseen and unfavorable scenarios. I mainly do contests to see if I can showcase my dancing in a high pressure situation. Being able to authentically laugh at my shoelace breaking shortly before a contest was a huge deal, because I know there was a time where I probably would’ve had a full blown panic attack and complain about “why did this have to happen before something so big to me!”

Instead, I laughed and thought “should’ve brought my loafers with me,” and then realized Saint Savoy was a vendor, so I went out there with my Remix Cap Toe in hand and just purchased laces from them. The confusion on the vendors face when I was asking for laces was hilarious. I’m not sure if my question was confusing or the fact that I was like, not panicking but very urgent. I also nearly lost my shoe during a prelim after getting stepped on while dancing, which was much more nerve racking when you prefer to do footwork and rhythm variations; but fortunately, I knew what to do, as this happened to me during Advanced Mix and Match Finals at Camp Hollywood. So yeah, I was able to put out dancing that I was proud of though my body or circumstances weren’t the most ideal.

 

Great classes are vital but don’t discount Great Social Dancing as a Teacher

I was reminded of the lovely simplicity of social dancing and the spirit that it entails. It’s always nice dancing with people from places that you have never visited and seeing how they go about it. I think sometimes we forget about the freedom that comes along with social dancing. Rather than rehashing shapes and sequences over and over, we enjoy the moment and interact with our partners by performing movements. They may not have interacted with something that you’re familiar with, and that’s ok. Bring something of your own to the dance and build upon that together. Rhythm and partnership are the things I find most beautiful about this dance, and it was nice to share so many iterations of that with so many people from so many parts of the world.

 

Our Community isn’t always perfect but there is a charm that keeps bringing me back

This community isn’t perfect. I have my frustrations with it, but I do love it though. I’m surprised how at home and seen I felt at ILHC. Even at my first one when I decided to punch above my weight class in the advanced division, I felt included, though I felt like the least talented lead in that contest. I felt included by the dancers who were there, and a lot of them have become dear friends till this day.

It was great partaking in solo jams with people being invited to solo jam. Hugging and high fiving competitors and screaming my head off for them. It was an exhilarating experience to have. Though I spend time analyzing the negatives of the dance community and seeing how those can be changed or just improved, it’s nice to have a moment and realize “hey I like it here.” This came to mind when the Global Trickeration Project video was unveiled and the sound wasn’t working, so you had well over a hundred people singing the melody of “Jive at Five” in sync with the picture. It gave me a great chuckle and made me fall in love with the dance scene a little more.

 

Conclusion

I said earlier that success is sometimes having a calm response to adversity, but it could also be finding how grounded you are in an art form that you put a lot of time into. I could easily say my years of training were a waste due to how my contests played out. I’m honestly happy with how things turned out over the weekend. I really got to learn some new things through social dancing, and be inspired to try different things by watching folks throwdown in contests and on the social dance floor. Most importantly, it reinvigorated my love of the dance and reminded me why I put so much time into my own dancing, why I put so much time into learning its history, and why I try to get/keep people enthusiastic about Lindy Hop, jazz dance, jazz music and jazz history. 

 

An Open Letter to ILHC Competitors

Dear International Lindy Hop Championships Competitor,

 

We’re one week away from what has been one of my favorite events since 2015. If this is your first time attending, WELCOME! I’m so happy that you’re able to make it this year, to experience the magic of this weekend, and I’m looking forward to sharing this space with you. If you’re a returnee like me (fifth one bay bay woo!) it’s great to see you again, and I’m totally looking forward to see what you have in store for 2019. Hope your body and mind are well, and once again thank you for sharing your art with us. 

 

Alright y’all, let’s get down to it. Some of us have been working towards this all year, some of us are probably going into this without really any idea of how to prepare, wondering if they should’ve prepared and winging it from there. Either or is fine, I’m just happy that you decided to enter and come out. In my eyes, we’ve already won. Competition is nerve racking, and I have respect for anyone that decides to enter a contest and go out and dance in front of their peers and strangers. This admiration goes triple for those of y’all in the choreography divisions (Showcase, Pro-Am and Classic)! My heart is thumping thinking about it. I just want nothing more for y’all to crush it, enjoy it and be happy with what y’all prepared. I love this event because it has always been so encouraging and magical. Having so many dancers from so many different places in one place to show off their best is always an awesome thing, so remember whether you only dance in prelims or your name is called for awards on Monday, you contributed to the magic and legacy of this weekend and nobody can take that away from you.

 

Now we all have goals, some of us to place higher in a contest than we did last year, others to make finals, some to get a single mark from a judge in prelims or stepping out to compete at all. Regardless, please remember this: your contest result doesn’t reflect who you are as a dancer or a human being. If you’re the most inspiring competitor of all time or you trip over yourself during prelims a YOU STILL MATTER and you’re still you. Winning or losing will not change who you are, and I would hate to lose you because results didn’t go your way. Whatever you do, please keep dancing in perspective. I understand wanting to place, but there’s so much more to this than holding up a trophy at the end of the weekend. Don’t get me wrong, that’d be pretty dope, but it’s not as big as our minds could make it out to be. Also, when you win a contest or make finals in big time contests, not many people know about it as much as you’d like to think, and the ones that do forget it really fast. I recommend putting stock into experiences rather than prizes.

I think the best moments to cherish are the ones before and after the competitions. Take time to enjoy everyone’s presence before the contests if you’re competing. I totally understand sitting in a chair and freaking out in a corner, because yeah that’s totally legitimate, but remember we’re all in this together (dang it High School Musical). I think one of the most impacting moments was my first solo jazz prelim at in 2015 when another dancer asked me what heat I was in. After learning that we were in different heats, we agreed to cheer for each other. It made me remember that everyone there wants to see each other succeed. Another fun moment from that same year is my strictly partner at the time, Keli Hawthorne, and myself were chatting with dancers from Korea, and they asked where we were from. Keli proudly declares that we’re from Texas and the Korean dancer got excited and asked if there are cows there. Turns out this dancer met the one Texan at that event who has their own farm and a herd of cows. So Keli pulls out her phone and starts sharing pictures of her cows. There are a ton of moments like this that make the event special to me, and though yes it’s important to be focused on competing, remember to interact and enjoy the company of your fellow competitors.

Biggest things I think that can be taken away from the weekend is that ILHC is more than just competitions, the dancers are more than just people striving for dance glory and making names for themselves. ILHC is a celebration of dancing, a celebration of people who dance, by a number of us going out and sharing something special to us with the rest of the community. This spurs moments that inspire not only ourselves but the community as a whole. Some of my favorite people I know in the dance community I met at my first ILHC, and they were catalysts for me to improve as a dancer and an instructor. This year, we’re celebrating the legacy of Norma Miller, an absolute trailblazer in this dance, and someone who always pushed dancers to be at their best but to always be appreciative of the dancers who came before us and encouraging of the dancers who are coming up behind us. Next weekend, not only seek to be at your best, but have fun, laugh and cherish the people you meet in the process; because like life, this weekend goes fast. I look forward to seeing you there.

Sincerely,

Shelby L. Johnson

Injury Prevention Part I: Preparation

Introduction

When performing complex movement patterns is a huge aspect of either your job or in most dancers case an extremely heartfelt hobby that’s consumes your many thoughts and dreams. An injury can be the fastest way to devastate us as it can keep us from doing something that makes us feel great or in some cases feel anything at all. If you’re like me someone who is obsessive about improvement and being better today then you were yesterday, injury is a sure fire way to slow progress down or stop it all together. After sustaining a hip/lower back injury in February and dealing with it all the way until this past June. I wanted to take the time and share some of the ways I’ve changed not only how I approach my workouts but also dance practice and events to prevent myself from sustaining another injury that hampered me earlier this year.

This will be a multi part series that I’ll most likely want to add to each individual part as new knowledge comes to light that I utilize with myself and my clients. There’s so much information on this subject matter and ways to approach that I wanted to draw focus to a few things to allow the articles to be shorter, less dense and easier to reference. In this article I’m going to cover different concepts that you can utilize in regards to injury prevention. This article will focus on two subjects Warm ups and muscle activation.

Warming Up

The easiest thing we could do to prevent injury is to perform a warm up before we start any kind of physical activity. Warming up is cited in many studies to improve performance and decrease risk of injury, this is due to a number of different factors. There are two methods of thought when it comes warming up, we have passive warm ups which is  “the benefit of increasing core temperature and tissue circulation.1 This increase in temperature can allow the muscles and other soft tissues to be less stiff and more mobile for the workout. “. Passive warm ups are most common as this entails non specific activites like jogging, bike, walking lunges, etc.  This should be done for about 5-10 minutes.

Now on the other side of the warm up coin we have active warm ups, this also referred to as dynamic warm ups or movement prep. Active warm ups also improve performance during workouts by increasing temperature in the muscles and “better neural conduction.1 This means by doing the activity at a lower intensity before actually starting, the nervous system is primed for the activity.  To do this, start the activity at a low intensity, maybe around 25% of the working effort, then move up to 50%, and 75%, then move to the exercise.” When I perform heavy back squats I tend to perform multiple sets at lower weights typically one at 155 pounds then 205 pounds then 255 pounds to prime my body to be put under the stress it’s about to endure.

In a dance context when I practice on quality movement I perform drills at a slower tempo and progressively repeat the drill and increase the tempo fairly drastically to prime my body to the new speed and be at optimal performance for the tempo I want to really work to improve moving at. So when I perform the interval training drill that I learned from this demo video with Mike Roberts and Joanna Lucero. If my desire was to work on fast tempos (190 BPM+) I’d perform this drill at 130-140 BPM, rest, perform it at 150 bpm- 170 bpm and then move into my range of fast tempos depending on how my body feels and I manage my rest depending if I have a conditioning focus or a precision focus.

Dynamic vs Static Stretching

I feel like you can’t talk about warm ups without talking about stretching, a common misconception when it comes to physical activity is that the more you stretch the less likely you are to get injured well according to science they’d agreed with Charlie Murphy’s sentiment . “There is evidence that stretching prior to working out will not reduce the risk of injury. Stretching prior to exercise may actually decrease power output, decreasing overall results. However, if you find that you are severely limited in a certain range of motion, it is fine to stretch in order to increase your range of motion for the workout.  For example, if the hamstrings are very tight, maybe allowing only 45 degrees of hip flexion rather than 90 degrees, stretching may increase the range of motion to 75 or 85″ degrees, allowing for more range of motion during the workout.  This would be a benefit despite the set backs from stretching.  If you need to stretch before working out, 30-60 seconds should be fine per stretch.” 

Now this isn’t to say that static stretching or stretching in general is bad that using those as part of a warm up isn’t the most effective use of your time when trying to prevent injury and performing that after your workout would be the most ideal and something we’ll cover more when I dive deep into cool downs in a later article. Like I stated before Dynamic stretching or dynamic warm ups are a combination of active and passive warm ups. Though a dynamic workout can be done by itself which how I prefer could be done after short stint (5-10 minutes) of low intensity cardio that will help increase blood flow and muscle temperature. The dynamic stretches or stretches that occur through repetitive movement will help improve neural firing and allow the body to operate more efficiently. My pre dance warm ups before practice and contests are full of a number of repetitive movements designed to help wake up my motor neurons and prime my joints for the movements they’ll perform.

Muscle Activation

Muscle activation is an exercise technique that wakes up the muscles opposite the tight, short muscles. Stretching alone will not even out the body. The weak muscle needs to be strengthened to keep the opposite muscle from getting tight again. Muscle activation focuses on those weak muscles and strengthens them to keep your joints moving properly. Due to my lifestyle where I perform a number of movements over and over *gestures to all the squats he does* and how a lot of my clients have sedentary particular muscles in the body tend to shorten and become over active and any muscle opposite of an overactive muscle will then be elongated and become under active. In short an overactive muscle is working too much and the under active muscle is working too little which causes poor joint movement.

According to statistics, provided by juststand.org, the average American spends 55 percent of their waking day sitting. That’s 7.7 hours spent sitting! Going beyond those statistics, think about the neglected muscles of the lower body.

  • Gluteus maximus: This is a very important muscle group that aids in climbing steps, running, deadlifting and squatting. Without a strong booty, postural distortions are sure to ensue (e.g. lordosis, the dramatic curve of the low back), which will result in injury.
  • Hamstrings: Yet another important movement muscle group, the hamstrings are used in walking, stair climbing, running and performing lower body exercises.
  • Core: This is a critical muscle group. Most individuals suffering from back pain have weak core muscles. Crunches aren’t going to cut it.

This above list is a list of common muscles that tend to stop activating properly due to lots of sitting. It’s imperative for a healthy functioning body that people get these muscle groups to fire properly. I activate these muscles before my workouts by perform floor bridge, single leg bridge and supine pelvic tilt. I also perform scapular push ups to help the functionality of my shoulders and upper back muscles.

Conclusion

To recap, a great way to prevent injury in your fitness or dance journey or as you look to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Warming up properly is a simple way to help decrease your chances of injury and will help you to perform at a high level more consistently as the body is primed and ready to put forth high level performance. As always if you’re interested in talking with me more in depth about fitness shoot me an email at Lindyfitness2014@gmail.com, follow me on Facebook at Lindy fitness and if you want to support me financially take a look at my Patreon page. I know not everyone can afford to partake in a fitness program but if you’d like in-depth fitness content please consider contributing to my patreon as these blogs take a lot of time and research to put together and would totally appreciate your support.

 

 

References

  1. Bishop, D. (2003). Warm up I. Sports medicine33(6), 439-454.
  2. Haff, G. G., & Triplett, N. T. (Eds.). (2015). Essentials of strength training and conditioning 4th edition. Human kinetics.
  3. Fradkin, A. J., Zazryn, T. R., & Smoliga, J. M. (2010). Effects of warming-up on physical performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research24(1), 140-148.
  4. Shrier, I. (1999). Stretching Before Exercise Does Not Reduce the Risk of Local Muscle Injury: A Critical Review of the Clinical. Clin J. Sport Med9, 221-227.
  5. Power, K., Behm, D., Cahill, F. A. R. R. E. L. L., Carroll, M., & Young, W. (2004). An acute bout of static stretching: effects on force and jumping performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise36(8), 1389-1396.

 

 

Dancers Who Lift: Laney Barhaugh

Introduction

I’ve been very fortunate this year to start cultivating some pretty cool friendships with people who spend a lot of time dancing outside of the Lindy Hop community. It’s refreshing to get a new perspective on dancing and learn the values of different dance scenes. With that said this has allowed me to be introduced to people I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise like Elizabeth Lynn Rakphongphairoj Kilrain who I interviewed previously in this series. If you haven’t read her interview, I highly recommend it, as she’s an extremely versatile dancer. Thanks to this friendship, I’ve been introduced to another dancer who contributed a great deal to the blues scene, and allowing me to cast a broad net in regards to representation in this blog. I’m excited for y’all to read up on Laney Barhaugh.

Name: Laney Barhaugh

Where do you live: Minneapolis, MN

Years dancing: I’mma date myself but 14

Laney doin the dayum thang at Signifying Blues

How did you start dancing?

Well, if we want to go wayyyy back, my first exposure to social dancing was in the “gym” (repurposed church) at the teeny tiny school I went to from K-3rd grade. We learned polka, schottische, foxtrot, and waltz, and I totes killed at the polka as a tiny human.

What are all the dance related activities that you do in your scene (locally, nationally, internationally).

You want *all* the dance-related things I do? I could write you an essay, but I won’t. Major things:

  • Part-owner of the weekly Lindy Hop dance (locally) Rhythm Junction
  • Owner of blues organization (locally) Collectively Blue
  • Teacher/DJ (locally, nationally, and more recently internationally) for blues events
  • Head organizer of North Star Blues Exchange
  • Aspiring Event Consultant (ask me questions about organizing! I want to help you!)

Years resistance training: 6ish?

Accomplishment I’m proud of: At one point, I could do 5 pull ups. Don’t ask me to do it now.

What are your favorite exercises:

My favorite exercises to do are generally things with a full body flow and some momentum, so like a KB deadlift/clean/squat combo, or slam balls, or full contact twist.

 Laney Trap Bar Deadlifting!!

 What got you into it and why? I wanted to be a more athletic dancer. At the time, I was very into So You Think You Can Dance, and I wanted to jump like those dancers. I still want to jump like those dancers, let’s be real. And I knew if I wanted to do even a fraction of the things they were doing, I had to be *a lot* stronger.

What are differences in day to day life and dance? Generally, having a routine around it has really helped me stay healthy and be able to say “I did one good thing for myself today”, on days where I’m feeling down. In dancing, I cannot overstate how much more confidence I have in my movement. I know, in a very visceral, embodied way, what my body can do; what I can recover from. And that trust is everything.

 Funniest workout story? Funniest workout story….not really funny, but more just embarrassing, I accidentally let go of a kettlebell during swings once, and it flew quite a few feet (nobody was hurt). I was super embarrassed, because I was definitely not a noob at the time.

 Piece of advice? Just start. I don’t care if it’s a walk around the block, if it’s two push ups against the wall every day, if it’s 10 seconds of planking. Everything counts, doesn’t matter how small, make the barrier to entry super low. And do something you like! If you don’t like pushups don’t do them! If you’d rather run than pick up a weight do that! If you’d rather swim, more power to you! Pick something you enjoy, build a small habit, and go from there.

 

Other things I’d recommend if you’re looking to build a new habit: get an accountability buddy. My roommate and I do this, and if he misses a workout he owes me a meal. Grab a friend, pick something you really don’t want to have to do for them/give them, and off you go.

 

Conclusion

 Thank you for reading, and thank you to all of the dancers who have been active on my like page on Facebook . If you have any questions, feel free to comment here or message me through the Lindy Fitness page on Facebook. If you’re interested in seeing how fitness coaching can work for you, email me at Lindyfitness2014@gmail.com. If you’d like to just support more written content like this consider contributing to my Patreon page to support monthly Jazz History facts and fitness facts as well as more in depth fitness and dance related content voted on by the readers. This and the rest of this series will be posted their for the public a long with many other articles. Consider contributing and get access to exclusive content.