With virtual learning and Zoom training not-so-distant memories, an academic year uninterrupted by the pandemic is an especially exciting prospect this fall. But as dancers fill their schedules with in-person classes, competitions, and social engagements, they may be wondering: How much is too much?
“After the pandemic, an unusual number of my high school students took back how much they committed to dancing,” says Lisa Fruchey, owner and director of Big City Dance Center in Wixom, Michigan. “They realized that they loved taking dance classes, but they also wanted to be on their school dance team or join clubs. Some of them seemed afraid of the stress of handling everything at once.”
Anxiety about getting back to “normal” is not uncommon, especially for dancers who were juggling a host of extracurricular activities before the pandemic. “Sometimes it may not be about eliminating activities, but more about making sure dancers have the corresponding coping skills to navigate what they have chosen to take on,” explains Dr. Caroline Silby, a sports psychologist who works with dancers. and high level people. – High performance sportsmen. Read on for Fruchey and Silby’s advice on balancing a busy schedule or determining when and what to cut back.
find your why
According to Silby, the activities dancers engage in should collectively satisfy these key emotional needs: competence (a sense of mastery), connection, and autonomy (a sense that you have a choice). “If you’re doing multiple activities, but they all provide the same benefit, for example, competition, without any opportunity to connect, you may start to experience a lack of balance,” explains Silby. Identifying the “why” behind your participation in each activity will motivate you to stay engaged when the going gets hectic or reveal why that activity may not be worth your time.
With a packed school and dance schedule, conflicts are bound to occur. “We try to be reasonable, because there are some things dancers shouldn’t miss, like prom or a college dance team audition,” says Fruchey. When it comes time to prioritize, Silby encourages dancers to see the big picture. “We want young people to use dance to help them become healthy, happy and empowered adults, and we want them to have dance outcomes that match their abilities, whether it is to be the main character in the recital or to become the principal ballet dancer. “, said. she says she. A missed rehearsal is unlikely to derail you from your dance dreams, but Silby warns that if you continually value one over the other, say, school activities over dance, then you may need to adjust your goals for dance accordingly. .
Communication between dancers and parents is crucial to balance, especially if you feel overwhelmed by your schedule or family expectations. “From what I’ve seen during the pandemic, parents are starting to prioritize their kids’ happiness and mental health more,” says Fruchey, so don’t be afraid to tell your family how you feel. “Establishing some specific time frames for the family to check in on commitments, including their purpose, benefits, and stresses, can be very helpful,” says Silby.
train your brain
A stacked schedule can make you rush physically, but it can also be very draining mentally. “Like your muscles, your brain needs rest and recovery to recharge its ability to focus and function well,” says Silby. She recommends combining relaxation techniques with activities that she does regularly. For example, when someone takes you between classes, rehearsals, recitals, and competitions, or while you’re doing your bow and tying your pointe shoes, do this short meditation: Take a deep breath and connect by noticing five things you see. , four things you hear, three things you feel, two things you smell, and one good thing about yourself. After school and rehearsal, imagine a “mental vacation” by visualizing yourself in a relaxing place. Incorporating these techniques into your current routine will help you stay calm and focused as you switch between various activities. As Silby explains, “Your attention is one of your most valuable resources as a dancer.”
Keep in touch
Your feelings about any activity can change over time. These tips from Dr. Silby can help you gain clarity on his motivations and priorities; he writes your answers in a journal or talks about them with a friend.
1. “I dance because…”
2. “In the studio, I enjoy…”
3. “I am here to learn…”