Saturday, December 3, 2011

Breaking up is hard to do

The studios that I've danced at usually take a break for Christmas and New Year's. This week I'm facing my last practice class for the rest of the year, and the classes I teach are breaking the following week. Neither is planning on starting up again until the first week of January. Everyone is so busy around this time and it's sometimes just easier to get things done when you don't have dance class to fit into your increasingly busier schedule. While taking a break from your dance class is a relief, though, don't you feel a little bit guilty for not dancing during that time?

So what do you do during your dance break? Well, as with everything else, you have options. There's a ton of things you can do on your own time, depending on your schedule and how much you can fit in. Take a look at some of your choices:

  • Do nothing: This is probably the easiest thing to get away with over a holiday dance break. However, it's also the thing that will leave you feeling the guiltiest. After all, if you do nothing, aren't your skills going to degrade? Will your teacher notice? The thing is, though, sometimes you do need a break to do nothing, especially if you take several classes a week over the year, or dance more than five hours a week. You don't want to risk burning out, and if you're starting to hit that point, then take a full break from dancing and enjoy it. Of course, there are still some things you can do to keep the dance fires alive.
  • Try something new: Do you want to keep dancing but are feeling a little burnt out on bellydancing? Look around and see if there's any workshops or short classes in other styles of dance going on in your area. Flamenco and ballet are good ones to take to supplement your bellydance, and ballroom is an old favorite that you can take with a partner or friend. This is also a good time to go with something crazy and fun, like pole dancing or burlesque. Whatever you pick, just have fun with it!
  • Drills: No matter how good you get, you'll never escape drills. However, instead of drilling your usual hip and chest work, take the time to work on something that's been giving you trouble. Think back over the last few months. Is there a move or a piece of choregraphy you couldn't wrap your head around? Ask your teacher for some final pointers before the break, and devote some practice time to just that. Make sure you try different pieces of music so you don't get bored.
  • Watch dancers: Christmas is when all the ballet troupes are doing their version of The Nutcracker. There's also plenty of other dance theater in different styles and stories.  If you have a theater nearby, check out what they have to offer and make a date to see a professional dance show. You can even get your dance sisters and brothers in on it by forming a group to go see a show. 
  • Read a book: There are so many books on bellydancing out there. Stop by your library and pick up one or two, or hit up and buy something. Not only do you get some entertainment, but a book is the perfect escape from the crazy holiday season. One of my favorite fiction bellydance books is *The Bellydancer, by DeAnna Cameron. Other favorites that cover some of the history and stories of other bellydancers are A Trade Like Any Other, Serpent of the Nile, and Grandmother's Secrets.
  • Watch a video: Not just bellydance practice videos, though if you've been eying one for a while, now's the time to get it and try out. There's also documentaries about dancers (not just belly dancers) and Egypt that you can watch if you want to get a little bit of history and real life in there. If you've got Netflix, they have several dance documentaries available on streaming.

As you can see, there's plenty for you to do during your holiday break. Personally, I'm planning to see a folklorico ballet, read two books, one on the history of Egyptian performers and one on dance anatomy, and drill shimmies. I also have Zoe Jakes's new DVDs on my Christmas list, so if I get it, I'll be running through it at least once.

Do you have a favorite thing to do when you're taking a break from dancing?

*Disclaimer: I don't know any of these authors personally, though I've met Ms. Cameron several times through my teacher. I don't receive anything from the links except good karma.

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