Week Four of Sunshine Studios Dance Camp 2011. Working in the Sunshine Studios office you are pretty much shut off from the world of dancing but never from the wall-breaking music or stomping of enthusiastic feet. But there is one aspect of dance that casts calm over the studios from the music to the stomping to the conversations about it. That calm is core.

I have reason to believe core is the mother of all dance evils and I have this on very good eavesdropping knowledge. But then again it is known that dancers are prone to a bit of drama. The ‘I’m doing core next’ is almost without fail followed by a pitiful look from veteran to newbie: they just don’t know what they’re in for. It has not been unknown for core to be used as a failsafe to make over-excitable children a little less excitable and a little more tired out and controllable. As ever, I’m curious.

So I discovered that core is the focus on the strengthening of muscles. So far, not so scary. But add in fierce repetition and increasingly competitive intensity, and those lacklustre sit ups I do on my bedroom floor no longer seem like the Everest I’ve made them out to be. It’s the leg lifts, reverse crunches and press ups we all do in the privacy of our own homes taken and transported to a public place next to other like-minded, competitive people. There is a lot to be said about competition to really get the best out of someone. Not to be beaten, to prove something. Motivation through competition is a lot more effective than self-motivation which is why core can, and does, get so intense. Without a yardstick it is all too easy to give up.

Just wanting to tone or lose weight can be all too easily ruined by that pesky chocolate biscuit next to your cup of tea. But inside the studio in these core sessions, there’s no room for the easy way out. Core gets results and from what I have seen, which is a lot of red faces, this is definitely no sit up in a bedroom; this is an intensive, skilful dance camp making students stronger and more in touch with what it takes to be a dancer. There are no complaints; just a common understanding that core is a more than necessary evil.

By Sarah Stopforth

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