How to Preserve Your Body for a Long Dance Career
What does it mean to have a successful dance career? Are you dancing all over the world with a company, dancing on a cruise ship in the Caribbean, or maybe even Broadway? What about dancing with smaller companies or just teaching & spreading your love for the art? Do you find yourself saying, “I don’t have time to take class, cross-train, & do a little R&R for myself”? CAN you have a dance career and take care of yourself? Absolutely.
I know personally that I spend more time focusing on how to improve my body, my technique, attending auditions, & prepping for rehearsal than I do taking care of my body. Sure, I eat right and cross-train, but do I always get 8 hours of restful sleep? NO. Some dancers may say that if they spend the same amount of time on self-care as they do dancing that they are sacrificing their definition of a successful career in some way.
I am not saying that you have to spend the same amount of time taking care of yourself as you do dancing. I am saying make sure you warm-up before class and stretch out after class. Take 5 minutes in your day to breathe and check in to say “hey” with yourself. Make sure you take time off if needed and get the right amount of sleep. Many dancers focus on the success right now, but they don’t look to the future and see how long their bodies will be able to handle this.
If you don’t take care of yourself now, you won’t be dancing in your late twenties. You want to preserve your body. Now, this may mean saying no to some opportunities, & it will be hard, but our ultimate goal is to be able to dance & perform for as long as possible, right? Well, then some hard decisions will have to be made regarding your career. If you are like me, you will do whatever you have too to preserve your body, which is your tool for your dance career. You need to make self-care an equal priority to your idea of success, not time wise, but making sure that the choices you make are made with the best interests for your career, your body, & your success in mind.
If you are early in your career, like I am, it is easier to prioritize cross-training and self-care. Put it into your schedule like you would a class or an audition. Take some time every once and a while to treat yourself to a massage. Your body deserves it! Let’s be real, we beat up our bodies on a daily basis, so taking care of it so it doesn’t decide to just stop working for us one day should always be on your mind.
Once again, you want to dance for as long as possible, so preserve your body. Always make decisions with your career while still being aware of how this will affect your self-care and cross training. You will have to make hard decisions, but if that means you will be performing into your thirties or even your forties, isn’t it worth it? Having a successful dance career doesn’t mean running your body into the ground and being retired by 28 years old. It means dancing, performing, or even teaching for as long as possible and taking care of the tool that makes us dancers in the first place.
Sleep, eat right, do Pilates, make time for that monthly massage, stretch, and do what we love to do. Dance. Treat your body with love, you only get one. :-)
Visit Meagan on her website at www.meagankolakowski.com