An Expert-Approved Training Plan For Time Off From Dance
Have two or more months off from dance this summer?
With a little planning, your body can reap the full benefits of your layoff—and transition back into the studio with ease.
Weeks one and two:
Use the first couple of weeks off to recharge your body. Photo by Leio McLaren/Unsplash
Truly rest. Indulge in long baths, reconnect with friends and catch up on sleep. If you're craving activity, do some gentle exercise like restorative yoga, long walks or low-key cardio.
Do cardio workouts like biking 2-3 times a week during the middle of your layoff. Photo by Viktor Kern/Unsplash
Start doing two to three weekly cardio workouts, like biking, swimming or using the elliptical. "You can take workout classes or play a sport, anything that incorporates whole body (both the upper and lower body) cardiovascular movements," says Jatin P. Ambegaonkar, PhD, associate professor in the Athletic Training Education Program at George Mason University.
Any strength training should focus on muscles that haven't been overused during the season, or areas of technique you know are quickest to fade. "If you're not naturally flexible, stretch," says Selina Shah, MD, who treats dancer in private practice in Walnut Creek, California. "If you have certain weaker muscles, incorporate strength work. If you have trouble with turns, focus on your core."
Practice movements that resemble dance. Photo via wikimedia.org
Gradually increase your functional activity—movements that resemble dance, like yoga, Pilates and targeted strength training. Incorporate regular stretching to maintain flexibility.
A couple dance classes a week is all you need. Photo by Jim Lafferty
Take at least one to two weekly dance classes. Prioritize functional activity over cardio workouts.
Two weeks before the new season:
Concentrate on the strength you'll need for the upcoming season. Photo by Jim Lafferty
Throw your energy back into class and other functional activity. "Do your homework about what's next," says Julie O'Connell, , a physical therapist at Athletico in Chicago. "Do I need strength for Swan Lake? Or do I need to work on my cardiovascular fitness?" This is the time to build your stamina and strength, so you can return to rehearsal ready for the season to come.
What happens during a performance is the product of the painstaking process of realizing an artistic vision. Whether held beforehand, afterward, offsite or online, audience discussions tend not to be so preordained, easily thrown off track without a skilled moderator at the helm.
"I'm someone who dreaded talkbacks and Q&As," admits Bill Bragin, former director of public programming at Lincoln Center. "While I was in New York, a lot of the time it was just audience members trying to show off how smart they were."
These events present a pile of difficult questions: How much do you reveal about a piece before it's shown? How can a conversation designed to hit key points feel casual and spontaneous? How do you cater to the needs of diverse attendees, from novice dancegoers to lifelong fans to scholars and critics? And how do you avoid smothering dance with language, flattening all its complexity?
If you think becoming a trainee or apprentice is the only path to gaining experience in a dance company environment, think again.
The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:
Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.
We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.
I dance to encourage others. The longer I dance, the more I see that much of my real work is to speak life-giving words to my fellow artists. This is a multidimensionally grueling profession. I count it a privilege to remind my colleagues of how they are bringing beauty into the world through their craft. I recently noticed significant artistic growth in a fellow dancer, and when I verbalized what I saw, he beamed. The impact of positive feedback is deeper than we realize.