When my 60 year old ballet teacher bellows "I don't believe in air conditioning!" All throughout the winter, no one complains. We gradually warm our muscles up throughout ballet class to avoid injury, however little progress is made in the area of flexibility, as our muscles remain too cold.
Ballet class in the summer is a completely different story. Despite the air outside being 60 degrees last wednesday, I walked into my ballet studio and was greeted with 87 degree air. The lower level class that comes right before my hour and a half intensive technique class was dripping with sweat, breathing heavily, and gulping down water. The sight of the beaten down dancers foreshadowed the class ahead. It was going to be a sweat class. After the first fifteen minutes of class, every dancer was showing visible signs of sweat and heat. To send a subtle message to our old fashioned teacher, (one is NEVER to ask to lower the air) one of the girls at the ballet barre began fanning herself, as if making the official public statement for all of us in the class; "We're overheating in this humid, cramped, 90 degree studio and the air is NOT on." Picking up on the signal, my teacher gave the room a friendly "Now class..."
With those two words, we all knew where the rest of her sentence was going to go. "...I don't believe in air conditioning. You know, when I was training, we wore sweatpants in the summer in order to sweat more. It's better for your muscles!" Exasperated, we all continued on with the draining footwork and leg exercises. After emptying my water bottle, class had only gone on for 45 minutes. We were only halfway done. I whispered to my friend on the barre next to me "This may be good for our muscles, but no way is this worth the damn heat!"
However, as always, the old fashioned techniques and habits of my teacher proved me wrong. As my extensions reached new heights in that hot, tight, and humid room, I saw just how much my muscles and I were benefitting from the warmth. Everyone was in awe when our leaps and splits looked better than they had all year. Our teacher never said 'I told you so', but she she did make one final promise before class was dismissed that day. "I'm sure you all enjoyed seeing your hard work pay off today. I'll be sure to leave the air off this summer, so we can achieve even greater goals!"