Whether you’re a student or a professional, summertime for dancers can be an exciting but often tricky time to navigate. For students or pre-professional dancers, it usually means summer intensives for part of the summer, but for professionals, it can mean an extended period of layoff without pay. In either case, summer can be the perfect opportunity for continuing dance education, exploring other passions and interests, or traveling and doing things you normally don’t have time for… as long as you plan accordingly.
Most younger dancers learn early on what it’s like to plan, since auditions for summer intensives occur in the winter. These early auditions allow plenty of time (for parents and dancers) to organize their summer schedules and figure out the details of intensives and other summer plans. Although dancing in the summer is extremely helpful, it is also important to take some time to allow your body to rest to prevent injuries or burnout.
For professionals, post-season layoff is a great chance to rest your body, recharge your mind, and refuel your artistry. Whether you choose to dance rigorously or take the vacation you’ve always wanted, there is one minor detail to consider: professional dancers are unpaid during these periods of layoff. Since companies only pay their dancers for a certain number of weeks per season, which typically do not run through the summer, dancers must find alternate sources of income and/or collect unemployment during these times. Some dancers find guesting opportunities with dance schools or other companies, many teach, and some do unrelated work.
But how do you manage to do all of this and still stay in shape for the upcoming season?
Finding a balance between working and working out is key in maintaining your physicality over long periods of layoff or time away from your normal dance schedule. Obviously, taking daily ballet class is a great way to maintain your technique. However, if you can only make it a few times per week or find it challenging to find free classes in your area, there are other ways to stay active. Summer is a great time to crosstrain or try alternative movement activities; if you’ve never tried a Gyrotonics class, find one and see what you think. Pilates and yoga are also great somatic options for dancers to keep their minds and bodies active. Don’t forget to ask and see if studios offer discounted rates for professionals or students!
As dancers, we ask our bodies to do so much day in and day out, and it is vital that we remember to take time to rest, both physically and mentally. Preparing ahead of time, whether financially, physically, or both, can help put our minds and bodies at ease as we enter the summer months ahead.