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10 Ways to Re-inspire for Dance in the New Year

Paul Taylor Dance Company Member Michael Apuzzo in Taylor's 'Sea Lark'

It’s the new year, so it’s time to get re-inspired! No matter how much you love dance, at some point you will probably experience a bit of a slump. Perhaps it takes the form of boredom in class, or maybe you have a lack of initiative to go to auditions. Whatever form it takes, experiencing a lack of inspiration to keep working toward your dream is normal, and knowing how to navigate both the lows and the highs of a dance career is a crucial part of being a professional dancer. For those moments when you feel your attention or passion lagging behind, here are a few tips to reignite your fire and re-inspire for dance.

#1. Take a new class

Routine and discipline are essential to a successful dance career. All dancers know the importance of taking regular class, preferably with a regular teacher who is invested in his or her students’ growth. Sometimes, however, it helps to break the routine by branching out. Try taking class with a new teacher or at a new studio; maybe even try taking class at a different time of day. Your body and your mind will appreciate the variety.

San Francisco Ballet's Jordan Hammond

San Francisco Ballet’s Jordan Hammond. Photo by Erik Tomasson.

#2. Try a new style

While versatile technique often helps dancers book gigs at auditions in the first place, it can be easy to fall into a rut once the job is booked. Dancers find themselves working the same shows, dancing for the same choreographers, doing the same styles over and over again. For good or for bad, dancing becomes a job. Taking some time to study a new style of dance, just for fun, can remind you why you started dancing in the first place. Having a beginner’s mindset again in a dance setting can be a refreshing challenge for even the most jaded at heart. 

#3. Go to a workshop out of town

Traveling in general is a great way to refresh and recharge; new experiences allow us to grow and see ourselves in new light. Why not put travel and dance together? Workshops and intensives take place in dance companies and schools around the globe. Studying and training in other cities or countries can be eye-opening and culturally enriching, and it comes with the added opportunity to expand your professional network. Go see what else is out there!

#4. Attend a performance
After spending so much time in the studio, sometimes it’s easy to forget how many of us fell in love with dance in the first place: at the theater! Go see a new dance company, or maybe an old favorite, and then let the magic of performance do its work.

#5. Read

Find some written material to help inspire your daily dance practice. Reading can be a relaxing and reflective activity that will give you some mental fodder for continuing to work in the studio. I’d recommend The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp or Daily Rituals by Mason Curry for some reading on the subject of creativity and art-making. For a fiction read, check out Column McCann’s Dancer, a semi-autobiographical novel about dancer Rudolf Nureyev.

#6. Explore a different art form

When you’re feeling a little trapped in your dance life, try exploring a different creative or performing art. Take some voice lessons or an improv class. Try painting or drawing. You’ll begin to find that different genres overlap and that your dancer skills can be utilized in new and exciting ways.

Zada Cheeks. Photo by Dave Rentauskas.

Zada Cheeks. Photo by Dave Rentauskas.

#7. Give yourself a goal

Simply setting some benchmarks for yourself can make a huge difference in your daily routine of classes and rehearsals. These goals can be specific or broad. For example, “I will improve my arabesque line by December,” or “I will have fun in each dance class I take.”

#8. Buy some new clothes!

What you wear in class can have a huge effect on how you feel and how you dance. Find some new clothes that help you look your best while also making you feel comfortable. Being able to move with ease is essential.

#9. Find a mentor

The student/teacher relationship is a crucial aspect of being in the dance world. Setting aside some time outside the studio to sit down and chat with a respected teacher, or performer role model, can be inspiring and helpful. It might be scary to ask someone for that time, but you’ll probably find that most people want to help and enjoy sharing their experiences with you. This a great way to gain encouragement and also practical advice about a life and career in dance.

#10. Take a look back at how far you’ve come

For some general amusement, check out some old videos of yourself dancing. Some people find it challenging to watch videos of themselves, but taking a look at your past can show you how far you’ve come and give you some courage to keep on going. At the very least, checking out old routines and costumes from years past is usually good for a laugh.

By Katherine Moore of Dance Informa.

Photo (top): Paul Taylor Dance Company Member Michael Apuzzo in Taylor’s ‘Sea Lark’. Photo by Whitney Browne.

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