Not only have our dancers been getting back in shape for three weeks of rehearsals ahead with choreographer Justin Peck starting on Monday, but they have also been learning how to hold their breath! Why? For tomorrow’s underwater photo shoot with Fort Lauderdale’s new glossy, high-society magazine Venice!
Interestingly, one of our dancers has a leg up over the others! Corps de ballet dancer Chase Swatosh tells us about his life before dance as a semi-professional swimmer and diver below!
I began swimming when I was a baby and was on a competitive club swim team from the age of 8 to 15, when I transferred to diving on my high school dive team. In swimming, I qualified for and competed in many junior olympics swim meets (usually two per year). One year, two of the relay teams I was on made the top 16 times in the nation — one of which was second in the nation. For the two seasons I dove, I competed in CIF (California Interscholastic Federation – state championship). The latter season I qualified for All American but didn’t quite make the cut.
I loved both swimming and diving although they’re different. Swimming is probably the most physically challenging type of exercise I’ve ever done (besides dance) which makes it great for conditioning and cross training. It teaches you to have amazing breathing control and to be mentally disciplined to finish races strong, even when your body wants to give up. This, of course, is very applicable to dance, among other things in life as well.
Diving is a different story; it is dynamically physically demanding but not nearly as intensive as swimming or dance. Having also been something of a gymnast (mostly tumbling) diving was a natural progression for me. Flexibility and body awareness from dance and gymnastics helped me a lot in diving. It’s probably the most fun activity I’ve ever done.
My philosophy about cross training is that anytime you learn a new sport or activity, you are learning to use your body in a new way. I think dance — or ballet specifically — is the pinnacle of physical activities where body awareness is absolutely crucial. So anytime I learn a different way to use my body, even if it’s totally contrary to ballet technique, that information becomes extremely helpful and in some way applicable to dance. – Chase