Advice for Dancers
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I injured my foot in class after 10 relaxing days on the beach. I thought vacations were the way to deal with burnout. What am I missing?

—Confused, New York, NY

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Advice for Dancers
A strong work ethic doesn't entail running yourself into the ground. Photo Courtesy Thinkstock.

After reading your column I now understand the problems of being a workaholic. My dilemma is that the dance teachers in my BFA program praise an extreme work ethic and use me as a role model for other dancers. How can I give my body a break?

—Burned-Out Dancer, New York, NY

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At some point in your dance career, friends might have used the word "obsessed" to describe you. Perhaps you smiled in response. Priding ourselves on how hard and tirelessly we work seems locked in our dancer DNA.

That's partly because dancers need a certain amount of laser focus to make it in the competitive professional world. But when you spend "one extra hour" in the studio too often, the scales can tip. Dancers can rehearse themselves into an injury, or try a combination so many times that the result is simply frustration.

"Sometimes your body and mind need a break—a day, afternoon or weekend," says Dr. Nadine Kaslow, resident psychologist at Atlanta Ballet. "But dancers feel bad about these things. They don't feel entitled. It feels like you might lose all your training or your spot in a company in that little time off."

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Health & Body
If you're stuck in a rut, try something new. Photo by Thinkstock

Let's face it: The demands of a dancing life are extraordinary, and sometimes we would just rather not.

“We all know those days where you have to wrench yourself out of bed and you're shuffling to the shower because you're so tired and it's about all the effort that you can muster," admits Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre principal dancer Alexandra Kochis.

There are times when the rehearsal process just feels stagnant, when class becomes mind-numbingly repetitive, when you simply can't psych yourself up to take Pilates class after yet another six-hour day of dancing.

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