Time Off To Appreciate

As a ballet dancer, one of the last things you ever want to hear is a doctor or physical therapist tell you to take time off from dancing. You think, “There’s no way I’m doing that. I’ll be so out of shape!” However, sometimes it’s unavoidable. You just can’t dance, and you need to take a break to get better.

A few years ago, I had to take about a month off from dancing. Not only did this dreaded month come just as I was feeling strong and on top of my game, but it was also just in time to count me out of performing at an upcoming dance festival. I was frustrated and worried. I thought I would “lose” my pirouettes, which were always my biggest source of anxiety. Then, I had myself thinking I would basically “lose” everything. I was convinced my feet would get worse, my extension would get lower, my jumps would lose height and that this time off would be a huge setback to my technique.

Throughout my weeks off, I watched some rehearsals and attended the festival in which I was supposed to perform. While this might sound like it would have been depressing, I actually found that this time watching rather than dancing increased my appreciation for ballet. I learned a lot through observation, and watching made me really excited to get back to class in a few weeks.  Towards the end of the month, itching to dance, I started taking barre. I began treating the exercises as discovery processes rather than chances punish myself for my technical imperfections. My fifth position was perhaps slightly less closed than it was before the time off, but I realized that getting back in shape was not the insurmountable goal I had thought it would be.

When I came back to class in full swing, I felt happier and more enthusiastic about dancing. My time outside the studio made me really recognize why I love to dance. The constant self-criticism that used to stream through my head was diluted by time, and I came back with a newfound awareness of how lucky I am to dance. After a week or two, I felt back on top of my game, pirouettes and all, but this time with a more positive energy and appreciation for what I do.

 

 

Latest Posts


Laurent Liotardo (post-production by Nik Pate), Courtesy ENB

Catch English National Ballet’s Rising Stars in the Emerging Dancer Competition Livestream

The coronavirus pandemic may have postponed English National Ballet's annual Emerging Dancer competition last spring, but the show must go on—digitally! You can still watch ENB's best and brightest talent during the competition's livestream, taking place on September 22 at 7:20 pm BST (that's 2:20 pm ET). Now in its 11th year, the competition for the Emerging Dancer Award will be broadcast live from the company's East London production studio for the first time. Tickets are available for $6.99 per device and will remain available to view on demand until September 29.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
From left: Alaina Broyles, Courtesy Werner; Courtesy Underwood

Gaynor Minden's Latest Dancer Lineup Features a Body-Positivity Activist and Its First Guy

Pointe shoe brand Gaynor Minden recently welcomed 32 young dancers to its coveted roster of Gaynor Girls. But this year, the company included two applicants who push the boundaries of what it means to dance on pointe. While both Mason Simon Underwood and Colleen Werner are longtime GM wearers, they stand out from the rest of this year's group: Underwood is the first ever Gaynor Guy, and Werner is a body-positivity activist.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Dylan Giles, Courtesy Festival Ballet Providence

Festival Ballet Providence's New Leap Year Program Gives Dancers Facing a Gap Year a Place to Grow

A new training program at Festival Ballet Providence called Leap Year is welcoming pre-professional and professional dancers who don't have a studio or company to dance for this season.

The endeavor is the brainchild of Kathleen Breen Combes, FBP's executive and artistic director. "I kept getting these emails of dancers saying they just need a place to train this year," says Combes. "I thought, What if we could provide a space for dancers to get stronger, experiment and try new things in a nonjudgmental and no-pressure environment?"

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks