It may be Winter still, but for many, we are already thinking of, and making plans for summer. With this mild Winter weather we have had, we can almost see ourselves on the beach, camping, going on hikes, or even just lounging in a chair in our own backyard. Believe it or not, dance studios and teachers are making plans, too, but not of warm sandy beaches or camping trips. We are dreaming of dance camps, guest teachers, new choreography, and intensive class series. Some students may groan at the idea of dancing through the summer, and many expect to take a break from dance just as they do school, but here I have 5 reasons why taking a break from dancing during the summer would be a HUGE mistake.
One: If you don’t dance during the summer you miss great dance opportunities! Dance studios have awesome special programs during the summer! Dance camps often cycle on a weekly/bi-weekly basis, each featuring different styles, themes, and teachers. This gives students an incredible opportunity to expand their repertoire and experience the ultimate cross-training program that is normally not possible during the school-year. It is becoming more and more important for dancers to be well-versed in not only one or two areas of dance, but as many as possible. It is still possible to find companies specializing in only one or two dance styles, but most, especially on a training/pre-professional level, feature dances of a variety of styles. The more experienced you are in more styles, the more options will be available to you once you graduate high school and move on. In addition, different styles of dance focus on different types of movement, which in turn focuses on different muscle groups more heavily. So, gaining experience in varied styles of dance gives you stronger muscles in more muscle groups, as well as more muscle control overall.
Two: If you don’t dance during the summer you miss building strong friendships. There is something about sharing hard work, sweat, and laughter, with others to build strong and close friendships. I went to several dance intensives growing up, and often took classes through the summer. I danced with the same people all year long for ten years, and to this day they are my best friends. The camaraderie is irreplaceable, the trust built, priceless. Not to mention it is fun!
Three: If you don’t dance during the summer, you will miss necessary prep work for the new season. At The Centre we teach choreography for teams and companies during the summer. If you miss summer classes and camps, you’ll miss the prep work for the new season and won’t get to participate in our awesome teams and companies! Also, it is a requirement for the students on our teams and companies to take classes over summer. You have to keep your body in shape in order to participate to the best of your ability in all that’s required of you, and to continue to dance with integrity and excellence.
Four: If you don’t take dance during the summer you won’t come into fall classes ready. Dance uses muscles, both physical and mental. If you take two months off, you’ll lose everything you worked so hard for during the school year. Your ability to comprehend and memorize steps will falter, and most likely you’ll forget the new steps you worked so hard to learn over the school year. Just as in school, you have to repeat things to learn them. Do you remember coming into the new school year panicking because you couldn’t remember multiplication, or algebra rules, or how to find X? The same happens with dance. It will be much harder to remember what a Saute Chat is, or an Echappe, or a Brisse if you don’t use them over the summer. Dance is as much mental as physical. I took several years off from high school until returning to dance after college. I started taking classes and teaching, and a year later joined a dance company. It was extremely difficult for me, at first, to memorize combinations and choreography. The mental part of it actually took longer to regain than the physical.
Five: If you don’t take dance over the summer, your muscles will weaken and lose their strength. Just as your brain functions need to be used to be maintained, so you do your muscles in your body! Most dancers will groan if you mention the first couple classes back from a break. Everything hurts! We feel weaker, less “on top” of things, we can’t seem to jump or turn. It’s agonizing. And stretching is a whole other game. Feeling tight and brittle in our muscles is no fun at all. Some of this cannot be helped. Our bodies NEED small breaks to rest, recoup, and re-energize, but not two months! These negative effects can be lessened by dancing throughout the summer, keeping our muscles strong and flexible. Just think, you’ll come back to fall classes not only in shape, but having learned new things, and ready to take on the new dance season with energy and strength.