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Getting Back to it- Five tips for returning to in person dance and movement classes

If you've been less active or inactive for a while, getting back to dancing and moving every day can be hard. Even daunting. Here are some tips for getting back to it, while enjoying the dance you love, without the guilt or stress. You may be concerned that you are too heavy to dance or get moving again. You may even be thinking that you messed up so much by becoming so sluggish. The good news is that it's a new day today, and you can start just where you are. Let's start moving on to movement...

Tip #1: Moving on with Purpose - Set your Dance and Movement Goals

 The first step to moving on with movement is setting your dance and movement goals. What would you like to accomplish, and when would you like to do that by? If you've read about S.M.A.R.T. goal setting, you know that goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. However, you can decide to take a very relaxed approach if you are just starting out again. Here are some examples.

  1.  Dance Every Day. (Yes, you can use our tagline!) Guess what, this actually does meet the goal setting guidelines, as it's reasonably specific (who cares what type of dance you actually do?), you can check if you accomplished it, it is certainly achievable (again no rules on the length of dancing or type needed), doable, and you don't really need a timeline for this. It is meant for every day after all.
  2. Learn to do triple pirouettes in a year. This is a little more specific, but can be modified to suit your level and dance style. Use any move that involves many aspects of technique and use it as a basis for a goal that's specific (triple pirouettes), measurable (you will know when you can do three well), achievable (choose what is right for you), realistic (can you really do this in the timeframe with your time constraints or any injuries you may have), time-bound (in a year or a time you choose).
  3. Explore three types of movement this year - This is great if you just want to have fun, stay healthy, and also experience different styles and techniques. 
  4. Learn to do handstands in six months - (one of my goals this year by the way!) Yes, it is OK to set a movement goal that isn't dance specific. I set this goal for myself because it targets my upper body which is my weakest area, has been a lifelong desire, and will help me with overall discipline and health. To get there I will also be dancing, but I know that with my ankle injury, I needed a goal that takes me off my feet. In this case, it's quite literal! 

 Tip #2: Moving on with a Plan - Draft a Dance and Movement activity schedule

 Now that you know your goals, you can determine activities that will help you to reach them. Some tips on activity planning:

  1. You can be as formal as using a planner, whether written or digital, so you can get reminders of all your dance and movement related activities.
  2. Be sure to schedule some fun activity days too, and take note of special holidays where you may need to adjust days and timing slightly since classes may be cancelled.
  3. This is a good time to do a sense check to see if your goals are truly realistic. If you can only fit in one ballet class a week, triple pirouettes may be unlikely if you don't plan to practise at home.
  4. Sticking to a plan may be easier with a vision board. This can be as simple as placing images of a few dancers you admire on your screen or stiff bristol board at your desk. Don't stress about finding one dancer that represents everything you want to accomplish, or even a dancer who looks like you. You're just putting together a general vibe of where you want to be.

 Tip #3: Moving on with Preparation - Prepare to succeed in your Dance and Movement

Fail to prepare or prepare to fail may seem harsh, but it applies to dance and movement goals too. The preparation step is key, because it links your plan to the execution. This is how you will make those goals happen.

  1. Align with your budget with your schedule. You need to be able to afford all aspects of your plan or it simply isn't possible. However, you can also check for other options that will lower your costs. Taking the additional classes you need at the same school may help to lower your dance class fees overall. Choosing two basic leotards instead of one fancy one, or starting a subscription like our pointe shoe subscription box, will also help you to save.
  2. Make a list of all the dance gear that you will need. Plan it out by day and activity so that you don't miss anything. Ballet shoes, tights, leotards for ballet class. Jazz shoes, footless tights, and colourful leotards for jazz. You will also need to make decisions on the type of dance shoes and dance wear that you prefer. For example, if you are just trying out tap, do you really need genuine leather or can you start out with faux leather tap shoes? Just starting ballroom? Then maybe basic canvas character shoes can work as a good ballroom practice shoe instead of strappy ballroom or Latin dance shoes. Also think about what dance or movement accessories you will need. A dance bag with an external mesh pouch for pointe shoes and ballet shoes that need to air out after class is always a great buy. You can check out our dance bags, and choose a dance tote or dance duffel here.
  3. It may seem like overkill, but an organiser or small makeup kit to store small items can be really useful. They are handy for wipes, small deodorant, hair pins and clips, and extra hair bands. 
  4. You can also prepare for accidents or injuries, and keep some plasters or muscle rub in your dance bag. Non-essential self-care items like foot spray, massage balls or rollers, and foot tape are also useful. 

Tip #4: Moving on with Practice - ease into dancing and moving again

 You don't have to wait until Monday to start, or when dance class resumes, to get moving again. You can ease into it right now and start small, knowing it's OK if it's crappy or scrappy. We rarely get things right the first time, and it's also hard after restarting after a long time. Right now it's more important o focus on having fun, building the habits of moving again. Let your body remember how good movement feels, and how much you love dance. This will help your brain associate the happiness with the moves again. Some ideas to start practising right at home, right now:

  1. Press play on your favourite music, and start the warm-up that you remember from your last class. The sequence doesn't have to be perfect, just focus on your form and any guidance you remember from your teacher.
  2. Start with what you loved doing the most or what was easiest for you. Sometimes the fear of failing prevents you from starting, so start where you know you will succeed.
  3. Start with what you didn't like or what was hardest. That is the opposite of the above, but may work better for you, for the same reason. You may need to know that you won't be completely horrible before going back to class. 
  4. Put on your tights and dance shoes, and practise some footwork with music or just claps or counts. They don't have to be based on taught movements, imagine shapes and patterns and just let your feet follow. This will strengthen muscles that don't always get used, and prepare you for new styles of dance and techniques.

 Tip #5: Moving on with Play - Have fun dancing and moving!

 This is pretty self-explanatory, but worth mentioning. Even when you have set movement goals, every activity does not have to clearly link to those goals. Dancing for fun helps you to enjoy it, keeps your soul happy, which in turn helps to keep you motivated to get moving again, and stay moving. Apart from dancing for fun, here are some other ways you can enjoy dance:

  1. Practise dance art. You can draw dancers, ballet, ballroom and limbo dancers make great art subjects. To make it even more personal, you can try taking a picture of yourself in your dance wear in one of your favourite positions, and try loosely drawing your movement lines. 
  2. Do dance craft and make yourself something or a gift for a young dancer. There are lots of ideas for dance craft, and I am amazed at the submissions for the Experience Dansy Artsy competition. However, you can also do guided craft, with these dance themed bead kits.
  3. Decorate your room, or everyday accessories. Wear fun tutus to class when possible, or to go out or for a photo shoot. For room decor ideas, check our butterfly and fairy dance decals. You can also add these glitter dance key chains to your bag and choose one of our Little Miss Tutus, or even have us customise one just for you.

Let me know your thoughts. Comment below on which of these will help you get moving again, or add your own tips as well!

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