Tuesday, July 24, 2012

When Do I Have Time to Practice?

George Eastman House
Dance class is great, but the only way you're really going to get good is if you practice. Sounds easy, but if you're like most dancers, you've got a day job, family, other hobbies, errands, bills to pay, and a whole slew of other things until you're facing the end of a very long day and you realize you haven't practiced yet.

So how's a busy dancer supposed to fit in the time to dance? Well, how much time have you got?

Most people don't realize that they can usually free up to an hour a day. For instance, I'm sure you all know how much time we spend on the computer and watching television. But look at your media consumption. Do you really need to watch that half hour comedy? Do you really have to check Facebook again? If you're reading this and thinking to yourself, "Hey, I don't spend that much time watching TV or on the computer!" just try tracking yourself for a week. Carry around a little notebook, and write down your activities. Make sure you're honest, too, or it won't work.

You'll be pretty surprise at how much time you spend doing nothing at all. This is all time you can use to spend dancing! You may not free up an hour, but you can at least give yourself a little bit of time here and there to do some drills or go over a new choreography.

What if you have commitments that leave no free time a couple nights a week? Well, you can do things like get up earlier. Even getting up fifteen minutes earlier can give you some time to devote to dance practice. I used to do this when I was taking three dance classes a week, and it really helped improve my dancing that year. If you can't get up early, though, you don't need to practice every day.

Instead, look at your weekly schedule, and figure out where you have blocks of time. Maybe you're busy three nights a week, but the other two nights are pretty empty. Set aside a chunk of time both nights and use that for your dance practice. What if you don't have any weeknights free, but weekends are wide open? Then schedule out an hour or two on those days, and dance.

Okay, what if you have no time at all?


Take a good, hard look at your schedule. There is always something that you can drop, shift, or stop doing. If you're still having a hard time, sit down by yourself, no distractions, and write done what's really important to you. Belly dance should be on that list, but you'll also find that a lot of stuff you waste time on is not. Once you write down all the things that are important to you, look at the things you do every day that have nothing to do with your list.

Then, instead of stopping them all at once, pick one to replace with dance practice. Maybe you feel like you have to watch a television show every week. Try recording it (or ask someone to record it for you), and use that time instead to practice dance. Even if it's just half an hour a week, do that first. Small changes make a big difference, and I'll bet you'll find after awhile that you don't even miss that thing you used to do before you replaced it with bellydancing.

Above all, finding time for bellydance practice really boils down to deciding how important it is to you. If it's important to you, you'll find time to do it. Ask yourself what you want to remember doing when you're too old to dance (hopefully never!): bellydance, or some inconsequential thing you'll forget next week?

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