Ahhh, Summer! A time for adventure, a time to temporarily disengage from work, a time to try new things, or a time to do nothing! No matter what you do with your time, one thing is for sure - summer is a time when you have the ability to take a much-needed break from your everyday routine and dance practice. On the flip side however, while we all want and need to take a break, how do you keep in shape both physically and mentally over the summer months? How do you stay curious and explore your training without a set schedule? This is a question on most dancers’ minds as we lose access to studio space and time, and is something I am in the process of investigating for myself.
My big question lately has been, “how do I keep my mind stimulated and curious?” Of course it is important to cross train and stay in shape. Your options for this will be determined by what is available in the city in which you are residing. I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by mountains, nature and bodies of water where I can hike and swim; however, there are many other options like yoga, the gym or exercising and improvising at home (or wherever possible).
Keeping mentally engaged is more challenging, though. How do you find a balance between trying new things and maintaining what you have worked so hard to build up? How can you bring forth ideas and concepts you have been embodying throughout the year and bring them into new situations? How can you keep your mental curiosity and momentum for dance throughout summer while still allowing yourself to have a break?
The Importance of Having A Break
Firstly, I strongly believe in the importance of having a break. Imagine life without one; you would burn out and lose your passion for what you do. Breaks can offer you a way to introduce and integrate many new activities into your regular routine. It allows you the time and space to reflect and process all of the information you have gathered throughout the year. It allows you the time to miss it and remember why you invest so much of your time and energy into your practise every week. It allows you to have the time and space to explore other things that interest you. And, it offers the opportunity for you to reignite your passion and re-enter the studio refreshed and ready to restart. That is also why doing nothing is important - to feel the freedom, become bored and get creative with how you spend your time. Force yourself to try things you are unsure that you will like or not!
Forms of Investigation
There are many forms of investigation - travelling, cooking, exploring new physical activities, playing a musical instrument, improvising in your slanted driveway! You are allowed to say “sure, why not” to your ‘strange’ sparks of interest. For me, I have found that this is how I stay curious. I have found a way to let my curiosity for the unknown lead me. What if I wear bright orange against bright pink? So what if I dance alone in public and people are staring? Once you have found things that spark your interest, you now have a key to a whole new world - one that you can enter and leave whenever you like and can act as a new-found source of inspiration when you are feeling depleted.
Transference of Knowledge Between Studio and Beyond
All of this exploration can lead to you discovering what motivates you to continue dancing. I used to have many separate activities in my life, including dance, gymnastics, violin, tennis, swimming, and skiing, that remained separate from one another. Indulging in a life outside of the barres and mirrors has given me a much broader perspective and allowed me to transfer my knowledge and understanding of concepts between the studio and beyond. I cannot tell you what makes your mind buzz and sing, however I do hope that this article has given you permission to break the dams to your summer creativity and adventures! The ultimate time to do it is now, so what are you waiting for!?