Take a (Productive) Break

August 30, 2016

College dancers juggle demanding schedules, so it can feel like when semester breaks come along, they need just that—a break. But there are countless opportunities for students to use their winter and spring breaks to try something they don’t have time for during the semester, and grow as dancers and artists. “Even though your professors are wonderful, it’s great to be around new people and gain a new perspective,” says Principia College dance minor Tessa Miller. Whether you travel near or far, learn a new technique or use your talents to serve others, start planning now to take advantage of your time off and experience something new.

Mini Study Abroad

University of the Arts students perform in Paris. Photo by Marc Domage, Courtesy Centre National de la Danse

Students often cite their study abroad experience as a turning point. But for BFA students with strict schedules or double majors with complicated requirements, a semester-long program sometimes just isn’t possible. Luckily, some schools offer opportunities to take mini study-abroad trips during short breaks. University of the Arts student Catie Leasca traveled to France and Belgium with her class over spring break, where she took workshops with Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Pina Bausch company members, taught classes to French dance students and performed original work at informal showings. The brief trip still provided the sense of immersion essential to the study abroad experience. “They gave us the space to experience what we wanted to experience,” she says. “Even though it was a shorter trip, going abroad let me see that the world is bigger than my school, and there is more to life than being in the studio and landing the triple pirouette.”

Get Multidisciplinary

Sometimes the most transformative experiences simply require stepping outside your comfort zone. Principia College dance students can attend an annual workshop held on campus over winter break, where they’re challenged to delve into other art forms. One year, students learned repertoire from Romeo and Juliet, and received coaching help from drama teachers. At their showing, they were required to perform sections of the play along with their dancing. “I was way out of my element,” says Miller. “Shakespeare is hard to understand, but when it’s broken down, it helps you know how your body should move and what feeling should go into each scene.”

Intensive students tackle a Complexions Contemporary Ballet-style pointe class. Photo by Breeann Birr, Courtesy Complexions.


Attending an intensive during winter break isn’t just a productive way to use your free time—it can also fuel your mind and body for the upcoming semester. “It’s a great way to come back to school with a new mind and finish second semester strong,” says Florida State University’s Mikaila Ware, who attended American Dance Festival’s winter intensive in New York City. There are plenty to choose from:


Pasadena, CA

December 27–31

New York, NY

December 28–January 5


New York, NY

December 27–31


New York, NY

December 27–30


New York, NY

December 18–21


New York, NY

January 2–12


New York, NY

January 3–8


New York, NY

January 16–20

Dates are current as of press time and are subject to change. Check company websites for the most up-to-date info.

A Movement Exchange participant teaches dance at a Panama orphanage. Photo by Carina Fourmyle, Courtesy Movement Exchange.

Global Connections

Movement Exchange, an organization bringing dance to underserved communities in Panama and India, has 21 member universities throughout the United States. Each year, college dancers travel during their breaks to set up dance programs in orphanages, lead workshops and engage in cultural exchanges with local dance institutions. Some schools, like Juilliard, host their own initiatives—sending students on projects everywhere from New Orleans to Botswana.