Marina: “How to Dance as Much as You Want, Tip #18: Stop Dancing for a Bit, and Do Something Else”

15 12 2008

When I first started taking dance classes, I took ALL the dance classes. I was 28, and had never really learned to dance, so these classes were like crack and a nice, long drink of water, all at once. I wallowed in the abundance of dance, I frolicked like a mermaid through the unending sea of it. I mean, DANCE, right?

But about a year and a half into it, as I was preparing for my first recital at school, I became aware of the need to come up for air. Also, I was getting shin splints.

I learned the hard way that what seems like a paradox really works: by strategically not dancing, you can keep on dancing! Don’t let preventable injury, overwork, or stress sideline you. Take time off when you need, for different reasons:

– Dance is exercise, and like all forms of exercise, you can overwork. Even the hardest-core performers should take at least a couple days away from it each week. If you must move some every day, try mixing it up with different forms of movement: yoga, or volleyball, or yo-yos.

– Dance is mental, and like all forms of, um, mental, you can get obsessive and stressed from concentrating too hard. If you are in the middle of a class or rehearsal and you feel yourself going to a Bad Bad Place because you are getting lost or confused, yes, you can bulldozer through. Or you can STOP, just for a moment, just for a drink of water or a wipe of the sweaty brow.

– Dance is art, and like all forms of art, it benefits from hybridization. Keep that dance alive with non-dance things: paintings and garage sales and cooking and kids’ music and learning a new language. You did that stuff before you started dancing, right? And enjoyed it? Well, keep it up. Because frankly, your inner artiste needs to get out more.

– Dance is spiritual, and like all forms of spirituality, it can be pushed to fanatical extremes. Give it a rest, get into your body in some other way, gardening or walking or swimming or building sand castles. Not everything, or even most things, need to express the Deep Hidden Truths of the Soul. Even if they actually do.

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