You swing the front door open, drop your heavy backpack on the kitchen counter and let out a long-awaited sigh of relief.
You smile to yourself and relax your tense shoulders because it is the day you have been counting down to since September- the last day of school before winter break!
Finally, your brain gets a moment to decompress all the knowledge you have stuffed it with for the past three or four months and, as a dancer, your body gets a break from daily classes and rehearsals.
This time off is much needed in order for your body to recuperate and recharge for the rest oft he school year but, as you have seen in years past, you know you may find yourself missing that constant movement.
Although you cannot wait to spend time with friends and family, eat one too many pieces of your grandma’s pie and binge watch your favorite Netflix series, it is important for you as an artist to stay connected to dance while on break.
Here are three ways you can do just that.
1) Compliment all of that peppermint bark with some rejuvenating exercise.
It is absolutely vital to give your body some time to rest over the holidays. However, sitting on the couch 24/7 for weeks at a time may not be the best way to do that. If you are looking for exercise that will heal your sore body but burn calories at the same time, try yoga or pilates. Both are highly beneficial to dancers and can maintain your physique in a therapeutic way. If you’re hoping to turn it up a notch, try Bikram yoga or hot yoga. Another, low impact option is to simply get out of your home and go for a walk, hike or bike ride. Whether you are needing some time alone with Hozier or Ed Sheeran or you want to spend the time with your mom and your dog, these outdoor activities will get your heart rate up without pounding on your joints or pulling any muscles.
We all know that it is nearly impossible to refrain from homemade food at family gatherings, so pair those heavier meals with lighter meals leading up to them. Fresh, homemade salads or smoothies are a yummy yet healthy option. My go to lunch is a salad with cherry tomatoes, avocado, cucumber and Kalamata olives paired with a homemade lemon vinaigrette made with three parts fresh squeezed lemon juice to one part olive oil, salt and pepper.
Lastly, do not forget to stretch! You don’t want to lose the splits that you had been working on for months, so make sure to dedicate a half an hour out of your day for stretching. Be certain to warm up first though!
2) Stay in touch with the world of dance.
If you are an aspiring professional dancer or have already signed a contract, it is important to be knowledgeable about your art form. One of my favorite outlets for this is reading online dance magazines or blogs, like this one. You can find advice from professional dancers or choreographers, news on dance politics, articles about advocacy in dance and more. The more you understand about the world you are a part of, the more success you will have when looking for a career within it.
If reading isn’t for you, you can find a wide array of video clips or even full performances online. You can learn so much just from watching an old video while curled up with a blanket and a bowl of popcorn.
Better yet, go see a performance live! It is the time of the year that ballet companies from all over the world will be performing The Nutcracker. Seeing some of the best dancers perform in person can revamp your passion for dancing in a whole new way. Plus, who doesn’t love dressing up with your best friends for a night at the ballet?
3) Work on yourself!
Although you may not physically be in the studio practicing your art form, you can better your skills nonetheless. One way I do this is by reading over notes I took after private lessons and rehearsals. You can mark your solo or group pieces at home and work on implementing those notes so when you get back to the studio, they are ingrained in your mind. Another option is to watch recent videos of yourself.Watching yourself can be so telling in helping you understand what you need to work on and what you have improved on.
Take your break,eat those ginger snaps and spend quality time with your family but don’t forget to maintain your passion.
Most importantly, remember holiday break is a wonderful time to reflect on just how grateful you are to be able to do the thing you love most each day.