People approach their breaks away from the regular routine of dance classes in different ways. Some take a little space from thinking, living, eating, sleeping, breathing dance and try new things. Some keep their summers as filled with dance as the rest of the year. Some seek out alternative ways to keep moving forward in dance. Whatever your style, this list contains some ideas that will keep both your brain and body active in the off-months, while stretching, stimulating, or simply refreshing your spirit and frame of mind. Challenge yourself to do all of them or pick just a few and be primed and ready to get back to that routine at summer’s end!
1. Dance outside. Okay, where I live in Texas it can get pretty hot in the summer months but, even if it’s just a short impromptu cavort, take your shoes off and just enjoy being outside!
2. Settle in with a good dance biography. Check out this list of Biographies You Can Sink Your Teeth Into from DA’s archives.
3. Make dance part of your vacation. If you are heading on holiday, why not check ahead for studios that hold open classes in your destination city. I’ve done this when visiting New York, San Francisco, and even some smaller cities. It’s always a memorable experience and I always return home with new revelations and increased motivation for class.
4. Visit a museum or take an art class. What’s that got to do with dance? Exploring other arts disciplines and taking time out to be creative in ways besides dance is reaffirming and inspiring.
5. Find a drum circle or contact improv jam. Don’t think improvisation is your thing? Just try to resist the beat of a drum circle. It’s not unusual at all to find dancers of all kinds moving along (children love these) but don’t be afraid to take the initiative yourself. Here’s a listing for U.S. and International drum circles. Contact improv jams often welcome movers of varying levels of experience. Here’s a handy map of U.S. and global opportunities.
6. Perform or work behind-the-scenes in a musical or play. Off stage or on, you will gain valuable production experience and increase your skills in areas that are directly related to dance.
7. Watch dance online. Peek into the professional dance world with DancePulp on Hulu. Each eight to ten-minute video offers a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of dancers and choreographers. Christopher Wheeldon, Andrea Schermoly, Lourdes Lopez, and don’t miss William Wingfield talk about So You Think You Can Dance and combining the concert and commercial career.
8. Start a journal. There are lots of techniques for journaling but the hardest part is forming the habit. Write about the things from this list as you check them off! We dance bloggers like to write about journals (duh!). Here’s an early post on the subject from DA’s archives. And a recent one from Ballet For Men.
9. Take some Yoga, Pilates, Gyrokenesis, or other movement-based class. It’s great cross-training for dancers and if done regularly can keep you limber and strong even with time off from dance.
10. Have a dance movie marathon. Include movies you love with those that you wouldn’t ordinarily pick up. The Dance Advantage aStore lists some of my favorites under DA Suggests – DVD. Here are some blog mentions and reviews of dance movies, too.
11. Produce your own student dance show. This could be formal or informal depending on your situation. The essentials are simply to have students or peers sign up, collaborate, and choreograph their own dances. In the process you’ll learn a bit about what it takes to mount a production (big or small), practice dance-making skills, and have fun while you are at it. Growing up, my studio offered an opportunity to dance in a student choreographed show. It was semi-formal (in a stage space but much smaller scale than a recital), students from inside and outside of the studio were welcome, family and friends attended. It was something I always looked forward to.
12. Create a daily workout, stretch, or moving practice. Set some goals for the summer and then put together just a few exercises that you can do every day. Or if you just need to get moving, make it a daily habit to throw on some music and dance around your living room. A recent post at FitSugar even suggests adding dance to your morning routine… maybe a little plié while you brush your teeth!
13. Read up! Catch up with posts right here on Dance Advantage by clicking on the navigation links under the header or check my offline picks (again, these are found at the aStore). You might also visit the blogs listed with a logo in the sidebar on the site – DA’s Blog Stars.
14. Go to a conference/convention/intensive/workshop. This one certainly takes the most planning but there is still time to get in on some of the summer activities happening at home and abroad.
15. Try water ballet! I’m not necessarily talking about synchronized swimming, although I suppose you could give that a try if like. Get in the pool and try your own underwater ballet class or even some water aerobics to get your heart rate up. Movement underwater is a great way to tone muscles and keep cool.
Do you have more ideas to add to the list?
Add them in the comments!
Nichelle Suzanne is a writer specializing in dance and online content. She is also a dance instructor with over 20 years experience teaching in dance studios, community programs, and colleges. She began Dance Advantage in 2008, equipped with a passion for movement education and an intuitive sense that a blog could bring dancers together. As a Houston-based dance writer, Nichelle covers dance performance for Dance Source Houston, Arts+Culture Texas, and other publications. She is a leader in social media within the dance community and has presented on blogging for dance organizations, including Dance/USA. Nichelle provides web consulting and writing services for dancers, dance schools and studios, and those beyond the dance world. Read Nichelle’s posts.