The winter months are always challenging with their lack of sunlight and dreary cold weather and it can be hard to find motivation. Both teachers and students easily suffer burnout at this time of year. The first big hurdle of the dance year – the holiday show – is over and classes can start to feel routine and uninspiring. How does a dance teacher break themselves and their class out of a seasonal slump? The answer just might be by taking a break.
1. For athletes who train in other sports, like running, cycling and weight lifting, scheduling rest time into their training is natural. Rest is when the body repairs tissue and replenishes energy stores. It’s also when excitement and motivation for the next challenge can build. The same is true for dancers, yet sometimes it’s easy to forget that taking a break may be beneficial for you and your class.
2. For teachers, a break can restore personal inspiration and energy levels. It can be necessary for your own practice to take a time out, relax and recharge. Dance teachers need breaks to remind themselves to listen to their bodies and their own rhythm. Because so much time is spent focussed on your students, it can take effort to turn that focus back to yourself.
3. With time off, there are many available options. Try focussing on a non-dance related activity you like and perhaps don’t get to do often. A nice way to take advantage of a break, whether it’s a slightly extended weekend or a full week, is to be good to yourself. Meal plan, go grocery shopping and prepare a few healthy meals for yourself. The nourishment of a proper diet directly impacts energy levels, so eating well is always important.
4. If possible, consider a retreat, allowing a week/weekend of intense, concentrated practice. Yoga retreats are good examples as they include beneficial physical activity but also offer a routine that is different from the day-to-day you’re used to.
5. If you take a class or participate in an activity during your break, whether it’s returning to an old favourite or trying something new, remember to tune in to your body. Don’t go all out and cause injury or irritation to your muscles, pace yourself and enjoy being active.
6. It can be difficult, but be honest with yourself about your fitness at that exact moment and participate in the class or activity accordingly. This is also good advice to offer your students, when you get back into studio. Each day and each class is different; balancing the act of challenging yourself without overdoing it is something each dancer, whether teacher or student, must do on a regular basis.
Your retreat may be active, restive or a combination but it’s important to come back to classes with an energetic and upbeat attitude. Your students will react to your mood and the positivity you bring to studio following a break is beneficial for all. You’ll likely all return feeling re-invigorated and inspired to get back into the studio and start working towards your next dance goal.