Holiday season and vacation dilemma: how to recharge our energy levels and not lose all the efforts of our training? You know that feeling on your first day back in the studio when your body seems to be 100 years old and that fear of getting injured after a break. Christmas period is even trickier: Many dancers report high levels of stress during the holidays, thinking that they should be training when they spend time with their family and feeling guilty of not spending more time with their loved ones when they train.
Spending time with our loved ones is essential and January is a very busy month for dancers: auditions, new goals, year-end performances and assessments approaching. This article will help you get rid of all feelings of guilt or procrastination and make your first class in January easier.
Create a “holiday plan”
Planning in advance is a great way to avoid stress and feeling overwhelmed. It gives your time-off period purpose so you will fully enjoy how you spend your time. It takes very little time and effort for an “holiday plan” to be put together following these 3 easy steps.
Step 1: Use a calendar to plan your time
Having a visual of the actual time available helps in realizing how much can be done.
Download our calendar, draw one on a piece of paper or create one on your computer.
Grab two pencils of different colors: one color for “dance training” time and one color for your “non-dance training” time. Use a pencil to easily update the calendar.
Check with your family and friends what commitments are already made: family dinner, social events. Mark all those events on your calendar as “non-dance training”.
Divide the remaining time between “dance training” and “free time”/”non-dance training”. A common rule of thumb is to ensure you don’t have more than 72h without a “dance training” slot to keep your muscles and fascia “trained”.
Remember to be realistic: if you typically finish Christmas dinner at 3am, the following morning is devoted to rest.
Remember also that spending quality time with your family and friends is essential to your development as a person and as a dancer.
How balanced is your schedule depends on you: how do you feel about the amount of time spent training and resting?
Step 2: Write a list of things you want to do
Write a list of things you want to do during your holidays. Write down everything that comes to your mind, list all the friends you want to see, all the TV shows you’ve missed. There are no rules to this: feel free to add whatever would make you feel happy and recharged.
Here are some ideas:
rest activities: spending time with family and friends, taking the dog out for walks, shopping at the mall, watching TV, reading the book or audiobook that has been sitting around for quite some time now
non-ballet activities: trying new sports like swimming, running or yoga, studying for school, learning a new craft: drawing, playing piano, watching self-development videos on YouTube or TED, planning for the new year
training time:barre work, floor barre, conditioning, pointe work, feet work, learning a new variation, marking variations, reviewing corrections and notes, taking notes while watching ballet, reading about ballet (yes, that still counts to me :-D)
A very good piece of advice for your training time is to pick a main focus, a correction to work on throughout the holidays. In my case it is working on my postural alignment so I made sure to have exercises dedicated to it as well as a reminder before each class that gives me a picture of what I want to achieve.
Step 3: Update your calendar with your activities
Grab the Calendar you created in step 1 or download the Calendar I made for you, and include all the activities you defined in Step 2. Decide, for example, on which days to read the book you just received as a gift or spend time with your family and friends.
Now you may encounter one problem: more activities that time available. Then you need to review your list and prioritise it until you can fit your activities. Leave some time for the unexpected and some last minute changes. Planning is about helping you make the most of it, not living through a rigid tight schedule.
Planning your holidays this way, you’ll know in advance what you can realistically do during this time. You’ll also enjoy every experience at 100% with no regrets.
What does my calendar look like?
Since most (if not all) the studios around are closed for winter break, self-training comes in handy. I personally think it is a wonderful way to progress as the sessions can be fully centered on my personal goals and needs. During this time, I develop self-awareness, proprioception and discipline. In case I have a correction to apply to my dancing, an intention or quality or movement that I would like to enhance, anything that I would like to improve on, I keep it as my intention for the hours of practice.
When I found Core De Ballet, I realized it contained everything I value and believe is an essential element to my training: conditioning, barre and floor barre classes and technique videos. Having a class to follow along, with an amazing instructor giving directions and wonderful music being played is a game-changer as I feel a lot more motivated and driven without even having to worry about creating the exercises. I noticed that when I was creating my own class I tented to default to the same musical accents, I would skip some movements that I don’t really like, etc. With follow along classes I know that a certified teacher has made sure that the class is complete and helps in my development. I also learned how class does not have to be fancy to be effective, that it can be taken whenever and wherever adapting myself to work on different kinds of floors and conditions purely focusing on my main purpose and correction.