Summer intensive season is almost here. Homework and other obligations will be a thing of the past. As you wrap up your Spring season, you might be thinking to the months and weeks ahead. You might be excited, but you also might be a little nervous too. Summer intensives can be difficult and put dancers at risk for overuse and burnout. You should plan ahead accordingly to have a successful season!
You shouldn’t be afraid to take a break because dancers tend to work hard – sometimes a little too hard. But taking a strategically planned break from the studio won’t set you back and can even set you up for success. Before you start your summer season, try to take a week to completely rest from strenuous physical activity and focus on yourself.
Slowly increase the number of classes you take in the weeks leading up to your intensive to avoid stressing your body unnecessarily. Keep an eye on your technique and work in a way that doesn’t predispose you to common dance injuries. Stretch safely, focus on alignment and stability and be aware of your anatomy’s specific needs.
During summer, work on areas of your body that your dance training doesn’t target. Correcting imbalances helps to prevent overuse and will make you a stronger dancer in the long run. The average technique class doesn’t necessarily prepare you to dance for long periods, so using downtime in which you’re dancing less to work on your cardiovascular health is a good idea. Both swimming and running provide great cardio workouts. Swimming is especially good since it provides minimal impact on the joints.
If you hurt yourself dancing, it’s not the end of the world. Be honest with your teachers even if it means letting go of a solo or other big role! Don’t push too much. Your long-term health is the most important thing, and your maturity will make a positive impression.
Just because your friend is going to a six-week classical ballet intensive doesn’t mean you have to. Perhaps your ballet is strong but you struggle with more modern movement or freeze when contemporary choreography is thrown your way. Consider what can help you grow as a whole dancer, especially given today’s demands for versatile artists. Think of your long-term goals. Perhaps taking a break is the best thing to do.
Some intensives have you dancing all day, every day, which is fantastic and so fun. But remember to be kind to your body. Don’t try to do too much. Focus on the activities that are important. Eat well, drink lots of water, and get good sleep so your body has the energy and fuel it needs for all of that activity.
While a summer intensive is going to be difficult, you also want to be sure it’s a good time. Fun is the most important aspect of dance class and you’re doing something wrong if you aren’t able to enjoy your experience.