Is it okay to sweat at a dance class?
— mark fleischmann (@fleischster) February 12, 2020
My dear, it is not only okay: it is expected. If I see a dancer giving their biggest step-ball-change without so much as breaking into a sweat, then they are clearly not working hard enough.
Theatre and dance is all about graft, energy and charisma and to achieve any of these you must sweat. The greatest performances of all time have involved a lot of sweat – that’s why people pay so much to sit in the front row – as they hope to find themselves covered in it. Laurence Olivier as Prince Hal: sweaty. Antony Sher as Richard III: sweaty beard. Amanda Holden in Thoroughly Modern Millie: sweaty Botox lips… you see, it’s all part of the process, dear.
In fact, everyone in theatre is expected to sweat. That’s why theatrical fashion consists of ‘blacks’. Black jeans, black shirts, black thongs, black gloves – black everything. And the reason? Black outfits show a lot less sweat than other colours. This is vitally important, especially when moving big bits of scenery around. Think dancers are the ones who work the most? No, dear. Spare a thought for those lovely backstage workers – they’re the ones who do the real labour.
Of course, there are different degrees of sweatiness. If you are aware that you sweat a lot, then precautions need to be made. I suggest investing in some top-quality antiperspirant, and giving your whole body a good spray before any dance class. Excessive sweating can be very dangerous not only for yourself, but also for all the other jazz-hand enthusiasts – a pool of salty water on the floor impresses no one.
However, you may be one of those unfortunate people like Prince Andrew, who at one point in his life was reportedly unable to sweat. If this is the case you should get yourself a water sprayer and gently mist your face and body before a dance class. Because if we see no sweat, we presume you’re not working hard enough.
‘If we see no sweat, we presume you’re not working hard enough’
This can be slightly problematic when doing partner work: no one likes waltzing with a dripping wet human. This is where an emergency towel can come in useful.
Have this little microfibre lifesaver hidden in the wings, and at appropriate moments run off stage and pat yourself down. And if you don’t have the time to run off stage to achieve this task, then do it on stage.
Audiences love that sort of thing – particularly if you throw the towel into the auditorium afterwards. Old ladies used to go wild for Michael Flatley’s used flannel, dear.
And finally, don’t be ashamed. Sweating is a natural resource that allows your body to retain its perfect temperature. It is an essential part of life, and some of us naturally sweat more than others.
I’m a terribly sweaty mammoth, particularly when I waltz around on press nights in my mask (which is also proving to be the best protection against coronavirus ever). It’s like a sauna in there. Anyhow, this isn’t about me. It’s about you. And to you I say: sweat loud and proud, dear.