By Teresa Nelson / Edited by Samantha Bellerose, B.Ed, Dip.Dance (Performing Arts)
Sometimes, we just need a break from dance. Parents and dancers alike. Whatever the reason, be it circumstantial, physical, emotional, or even financial a break is almost inevitable at some point in a dancer’s journey.
How long the break will be is dependent on the given situation and most importantly, the dancer. However, just as inevitable as the dance break itself so is the return to dance.
The passion of a dancer is strong. When your dancer is ready and determined to return to dance, it will require some forethought and a planned course of action. Consider the following tips to best prepare for a safe and positive back to dance experience.
1. How do I get my dancer motivated?
After a few months away from dance, it is important to find ways to keep your dancer motivated. Even the smallest of breaks can cause your dancer to become less flexible and less conditioned. Having a “can-do” attitude is important. The power of positivity can never be underestimated.
Help keep your dancer focused by reducing distractions and stressors. It is also a good time to reflect on what it is about dance that you and your dancer love. This is also the perfect time to find a ballet production or a local dance performance to enjoy. Encourage your dancer to look at old photos or videos of themselves and to reflect on good memories.
2. What type of dance training will my child do?
Some of the more important things to consider are what type of dance training should you enroll your child in. How many classes a week? What type of dance? Recreational or competitive? Ballet-focused or all-around dancer? Will your dancer be returning to the same studio or is this a time to find a new one?
Maybe before your break, your dancer trained in all areas of dance but now would like to focus more on ballet. Perhaps the break was to allow for an adjustment of goals for your dancer and your family. Knowing what type of dance, you wish to return to will guide your decision-making process.
3. Should I switch dance studios?
This would be the perfect time to switch dance studios if desired. Switching to a new studio will allow for a clean slate with fresh instruction and decrease the pressure of expectations.
Going back to the same studio has positives as well. The staff are familiar with your dancer and know what they are capable of as well as having the pre-established friendships that could help with staying motivated.
4. Why is it important to set goals in dance?
Setting goals is so important. Start by sitting down with your dancer and asking them what they hope to achieve over the next month. Write the goals down and stick them on the refrigerator. A great place to start is by reading our Smarte Goals for dancer articles which you can find here!
If your dancer says they want to have their splits back to the level they were previously, then as a parent you can provide the necessary resources to do that by setting time aside to work together with flex bands and stretching. As a dance parent, providing a space for your dancer to train in your home is important too.
Having a dedicated space with a ballet barre and mirror as well as other necessary conditioning equipment can be useful in helping your dancer achieve their goals. If your dancer sets a goal do your best to help them achieve it. If it means extra time doing physical activity or working one on one with them, working together will always keep them motivated and positive.
5. How do I prepare financially for dance lessons?
Perhaps one of the reasons you took a break from dance was because it had become too expensive. We all know how expensive dance can be especially if you are a competitive dancer. By taking a break from dance you may have realized that you were spending too much on private lessons or dancewear.
Before returning to dance establish a budget. Know ahead of time how much things are going to cost and if they are affordable. Set limits with your dancer who may want to take all offered classes or go to every convention.
A good idea might be to open a dedicated bank account to use for all things dance so that you can track spending more accurately. By setting a budget and preparing financially you will be more prepared to commit to the goals previously established.
6. How can I establish a good routine for my dancer?
By planning carefully, you can best prepare for the new dance routine. Before your dancer returns to the studio, make sure to purchase required items ahead of time such as new uniforms or dance shoes. Try your best to be organized and able to find things your dancer will need.
Most meltdowns occur when your dancer is feeling rushed or unprepared. It is important to write down class times on a calendar and check your schedule to know if you can get your dancer to the studio on time. It might be necessary to arrange a carpool with another dance mom.
It is easy to fall out of routines but difficult to reestablish them. Establishing a routine that runs smoothly and efficiently can best prepare your dancer for success and the return to dance.
7. How can I improve my dancer’s overall health?
Likely, your dancer was not focusing on their overall health while away from dance. They may have developed some bad habits with snacking and a lack of exercise. Dancing requires a lot of stamina and endurance. Start by keeping your dancer on a good sleep schedule and keeping more healthy snack options available.
Exercise is so important. Choose activities your dancer enjoys. Jump roping, bike riding, jumping on a trampoline, or tumbling at a jump park. Gradually progress to more intensive exercise like light weights and stretching. Proper conditioning is important to avoid injury and to keep your dancer versatile with dance.
Overall health should include trying your best to eliminate distractions and stressors. A whole-body approach to wellness is ideal. Your dance should be mentally alert with a good sleep schedule and physically capable of returning to the strenuous activity of dance.
8. What should I purchase?
We have already touched on a few necessary purchases but before your dancer returns to dance you may want to consider what you might need that you don’t already have. Do you have enough hair products? Have you checked if her previous leotards still fit? Does your dancer need a new dance bag?
Make sure your dancer has a good water bottle and snack container. You can help your dancer get more excited about returning to dance with a new portable dance floor or updating their home dance space with some cool LED strip lights.
9. How can I provide more support for my dancer?
There is no time like the present to reconnect with friends. Now is the perfect time to reach out and say hi to the dance moms and the other dancers. Set a play date or other get-togethers for your dancer to have an opportunity to reconnect and regroup.
Having a good support group is essential with successfully returning to dance. Be sure to remind your dancer how proud you are of them and always be available to listen. As your dancer returns to dance, they will need to know you will always be there for them no matter what they decide or choose to participate in.
10. Why should my dancer keep a journal?
Encourage your dancer to keep a daily journal. It is the perfect opportunity to write down thoughts and experiences some of which might be hindering their progress in dance. It is a good idea to unload and to clear the mind by writing away any negativity and to regain focus.
It is also a great time to write about good experiences and to identify what things brought joy during the day. Keeping a journal is a great tool and it is always fun to revisit journal entries later down the road.
11. How do I find Inspiration?
Feeling inspired is not always easy. We all are familiar with roadblocks or drama of various sorts. It is during these times it is important to look for ways to stay inspired and to keep moving forward.
While your dancer is preparing to return to dance, find different ways to inspire such as meditation, creating a vision board, or listening to music that moves you in some way. Place cute little inspirational quotes in your dancer’s lunch bag or on the bathroom mirror.
I have found that one of the best ways for my dancer to stay inspired and committed is for me to focus on the achievements. When a goal is met such as mastering a leap or making the competition team we celebrate. Realizing how hard your dancer worked to accomplish a goal, even a small one is worthy of celebration. Go to your dancer’s favorite ice cream shop, buy a new toy or take a special trip.
Returning to dance IS an achievement so take the time to celebrate that your dancer wants to go back. Be excited and proud of them knowing it might not be an easy task.
Remember Breaks and Rests are a good thing!
We all need a break now and then and your dancer should know it is perfectly alright for them to take one. Discuss the pros and cons of taking a break before the final decision is made so that there is no misunderstanding.
Returning to dance after a break can intimidating but, with good forethought and planning, you and your dancer can be prepared. By establishing goals and expectations with your dancer you can help prepare them for success.