Hell weeks are inevitable, whether it's a literal 7 days straight of practices or extra rehearsals dumped into your already-full schedule.
But as grueling as they can be, hell weeks are somewhat of a rite of passage for competitive team dancers. It's like hazing, but with a purpose.
So, don't let hell week get to ya! It's for the team, for the set, for the sake of every person putting out the best they can on stage.
And the better your condition and mindset approaching the week, the better the product and journey will be.
So keep reading to make your hell week as heavenly as can be ;)
Rule #1 of Hell Week:
Don't. Get. Sick.
Hell week practices surround you with dozens of sweaty people for extended periods of time. Germnasiums.
And someone, I bet you– SOMEONE -is probably ALREADY SICK.
But they come to practice anyway, and whenever someone asks for a sip of their drink, they go "Wait no!! I'm sick..
Invest in a pack of Emergen-C and pass it around your team's circle up.
Guarantee most people will take one and start mixing it in with their water on the spot.
See Related Article: How To Take Care Of Your Body As A Dancer
Another measure to prevent getting sick: keep a set (or a few sets) of clean, dry clothes in your bag for after rehearsals.
There is nothing worse than eating at Denny's til 4 am knowing that your sweat is just sitting there, stuck on you, forming embarrassing patterns of salt on your back.
As soon as rehearsal is over, or even throughout it if you get too drenched, change your clothes!!
See Related Article: The Inconvenient Truths Of Looking “Hip Hop”
You lose all sense of time, your circadian rhythm is just as irregular as those beats in that SoundCloud remix you're dancing to, and everything feels like chaos during hell weeks.
But you GOTS TA keep track of what you're doing, or else you'll let life slip through the cracks because you're too much of a zombie to care about your schedule.
Even if you're not an avid planner-user, it's so. sO. SO!!! helpful to use one, even temporarily for that week.
Especially if you're a student, or have multiple jobs, you need one central place to write down – like physically write and be able to see – your upcoming plans.
I recommend color-coding: have your school schedule in one color, your work plans in another, and your rehearsals in another (maybe even include what you're doing that day, so you can mentally prepare for 7 hours of cleaning on Thursday night).
I personally use a weekly planner with my major plans written under that date as soon as I know them, then a separate sheet I use for the tasks or chores I need to complete that week.
Everyone has their own system, so find out what works best for you.
It's ironic how we pay so much attention to get our bodies to look and move a certain way, but we neglect the thing that even makes that possible.
We use, abuse, forget, or indulge in food, rather than see it as nourishment for our bodies.
How many of you have skipped dinner, had an 8 hour rehearsal, then picked up a bunch of greasy fast food on your way home?
Since you probably won’t have reliable access to good, nutrient-rich meals, meal prepping for a few hours the week before your hell week is a great solution.
There are some great recipes you can find online, both for snacks and meals.
This way, your Tupperware-carrying self will be armed with the right nourishment, instead of having a diet that drains you even more.
See Related Article: 10 Foods Californian Dancers Love After Long Rehearsals
There's always that one person who forgot some piece of their costume or has some sort of malfunction with it the DAY OF the show.
As soon as you have your entire costume, take a full-length photo of you wearing it.
Try and capture the details and accessories (this means no ridiculous dabbing poses that might cover your necklace.)
This photo will be your visual checklist when packing for the show.
Please don't be that person that has to run to Target between tech/performing to get an extra pair of white shoes that you'll never wear again and were way too slippery for the stage anyway. I definitely won’t be... again.
Dancers have the minds of artists and bodies of athletes. Which explains why our duffel bags contains all the items that a professional athlete's would.
At least, it should, if you're really thinking about your physical wellness.
Be prepared and pack things like knee pads (a must if you're practicing floor work outside!!!), knee braces, Icy Hot (or Salon Pas<3), or a pair of flip flops to change in/out of.
Throw in a few small towels some aspirin, tampons, band-aids, etc., for good measure, too.
Basically, you never want your body to catch you off-guard. Dancing for hours on end is stressful enough, so you want to be both preventative and prepared.
You want to make sure that no technical hiccups come up during the drive there, especially if the competition is more than an hour away.
If your car's been acting up, DON’T put your other teammates at risk and volunteer to drive. If you absolutely must, get a checkup the the week before (because Lord knows you won't be able to make time during the week.)
Get a full tank of gas at Costco, while you're at it, so you won't have to keep stopping by the gas station every other day. Don't waste time you don't need to!
Preparing your car means: cleaning it out to make room for your teammates and their bags, making a driving playlist (which should be the set mix on repeat), and whatever else that makes the drive more comfortable.
Hopefully this checklist can help you not only survive, but enjoy hell *heaven weeks!