How to Ease Back into Dance After a Long Break

Many dancers hope to have a consistent dance schedule that allows them to practice at least once a week.  However, random life events can get in the way and cause them to take unplanned breaks.  Depending on how long they are, these breaks can set dancers back in a various amount of ways.  Once they finally do decide to come back to dance, they may initially feel lost.  This is a normal feeling, as anything that takes people away from their normal schedule can shake them up a bit.  The good news is that it’s definitely possible for dancers to get back up to speed, even after a hiatus.  We have a few pieces of advice for dancers that are thinking about getting back on the dance floor.  These tips will surely be useful if you or a friend have just started back up and are feeling a bit discouraged. 

 

Forget Courage, Just Do It!

Many people may hesitate to go back to their studios because they have the same fears that a lot of new dancers have – they are worried about looking a certain way, or feel as though they won’t be able to do certain moves.  Since people get caught up in these mindsets, their confidence is weakened and they end up avoiding dance lessons.  It’s reasonable to have these thoughts at first, but you have to remember why you started dancing in the first place and why you kept coming back.  It is okay to be nervous, and you might not be able to dance like before, but over time you will forget your worries and your courage will come back naturally.  The first step is to ignore your self-doubt and just dance!

 

Start Slow

When you come back to dance, you may not be at the same level as before and you may not be able to do certain movements as easily. You could jump right back into moves you were previously working on, but there is a chance you could hurt yourself if you are trying to do something difficult.  To avoid injury, it’s best to start slow and work yourself up to where you left off.  For example; if you were working on advanced silver steps and lifts before, it’s best to work on some bronze steps and avoid doing lifts until you feel comfortable and limber enough to do them again.  Conditioning exercises are another good way to get back into old moves, especially if they involve a lot of flexibility or strength.  It may take a while for your body to adjust, but if you keep practicing you will get back on track in no time.

 

Trust Muscle Memory

Dance can be repetitive at times, but this is good because repetition helps build muscle memory.  Muscle memory makes it easier to get back into the groove of certain dance moves that you previously learned.  People will often find that they automatically start doing steps from a certain dance or routine, even if they haven’t practiced them in a while.  As you go through some of your old movements, try not to overthink it at first.  Trust your muscle memory, allow you instructor to lightly guide you through the movement, and see what your body remembers.  You may surprise yourself!  After you’ve tried this, then you can do a concrete review of the steps. 

 

Try Something New

Our bodies change over time and sometimes that makes it difficult to dance in ways that we used to.  When this is the case, it may be a good idea to try new ways of moving or learning.  This doesn’t mean you have to completely give up on your old dance habits; it just means you are adapting and growing.  For you, this may mean executing a move in a different way or picking up a completely new dance style.  Dancers have a wide variety of styles to try out, so it’s good to test the waters every once in a while to see what else you can do.  You may even find that you are better at a new style or technique than another!  For instance; if you primarily danced Latin, trying a few smooth and standard dances may end up being a refreshing experience.  You might also discover a new favorite dance!

 

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

We state this many times, but everyone grows at different rates, so you can’t compare yours progress to someone else’s.  You already know that you can’t expect yourself to be at the exact same level as you were before you stopped dancing.  So similarly, you can’t expect yourself to be the same level as other dancers around you. You may have friends who are at a higher level, but you can’t let that discourage you.  They may have been able to put in more practice hours, but that doesn’t make you any less of a dancer.  It’s not wise to judge yourself based on how far along other people are.  Take your time and don’t try and rush your progress to try to catch up to someone else.  Eventually you will start to get back to the level that you were at before.  If you aren’t progressing as quickly as you’d like, you shouldn’t stress out because the most important thing about dance is to...

 

Have Fun!

Remember why you started to dance in the first place.  You should never beat yourself up about getting back to your previous level.  You will eventually get to where you need to be, but in the meantime, enjoy the journey along the way!  If training begins to stress you out, find ways to make dance fun again by attending a party, watching a show or competition, or even preparing for your own performance.

 

Happy Dancing! ^_^