Living in NYC is pricey, and finding work in dance in the NYC area and staying in good 'ballet shape' in between gigs (at the wonderful price of $17 bucks per open class, which you should be taking at least 5 times a week to be ready to audition for a job) is pretty much impossible on a dancer's salary alone, at least for most people who are on our own and handling all the expenses of living in the big apple.
While scholarships are available to some of us, they still usually require you to be there for anywhere between 4-6 hours per day, interfering with any possibility to have a full time job, which you probably need in order to pay for the unforgiving rents, transportation, and $4 coffees. Even for the lucky ones working for ourselves, there are still the questions of having to take class in a 'school environment' that you may not necessarily want to be in anymore, or even taking classes from teachers whose class you don't enjoy which could very well be required to. So, considering the fact that Manhattan is the most expensive city to live in in the US, saving $17 a day may put you in a position where you could consider potentially simply not continuing to dance.
In my case, a combination of all those factors, as well as being lucky enough to work on other things that pay better than the few dance gigs available in the city, drove me to the decision to quit dancing. But then after just five months of absolutely no dance, I decided to go back. Which brings me to suggest from my own experience: DO NOT JUST STOP!
Before 'quitting for good' or even taking a long break without dance class, you'd better be damn
sure you're not planning to come back, or else you may face the awful consequences.
After just five months, the padding on the bottom of my feet went flat, my flexibility disappeared, I built muscles that totally got in the way of turning out, and gained ten glorious pounds-- that since I was too out of shape to get through more than two classes a week, although I had been going to the gym and lifting weights consistently-- it seemed like I would never be able to get rid of them.
So if you are facing the decision --or the need-- not to take class, I suggest you try to discipline yourself to do a few quick things that would save you from turning into a total mess in no time, and you can do it by doing these 5 Simple Ways to Stay in Dancing Shape While you're on break.
Do a barre on your own
If you make yourself a simple 'set barre' that incorporates every exercise in plie, flat, and releve, you can stay in pretty decent shape without having to go to a full class. You can get through this in about 15-20 minutes.
You can multi-task while watching tv, doing computer work, or planning out your daily schedule.
Keep eating sensibly
Dancing burns roughly 500-800 calories per ballet class so you can figure out how much you need to adjust your eating when you aren't taking class.
Incorporating jumps in your cardio training
Jumps are one of the first things to go when you aren't using them, on 'cardio' days -or daily if possible- make sure to do at least two sets of 'warm up jumps' which should help minimize losing power.
If you go to the gym, work out on things that can still help with dance
Working out at the gym is mostly designed to 'look good' for -non dancer- standards, but not for being speedy, and flexible or move very fast, so if you follow 'normal' gym workouts, you might not only lose some of you ballet ability, but you can potentially build muscles that make it event harder to get back into the studio and just rely on your muscle memory and natural ability. Doing exercises using turn out, and lengthening may save you from having this issue, as well as help you stay strong.
Following these simple steps require less than an hour per day, cost barely anything -since gym memberships are extremely affordable nowadays- and will give you the freedom to get back into class at a moments notice, and allow you to go to an audition to book your next job or scholarship, not to mention it will save you from learning the hard way, like I did!
is a NYC based multi-disciplinary artist in the visual and performing arts,
creating expressive works through dance, painting, photography, film & design.
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