Thursday, April 6, 2017


The days are getting longer, the temperature is warming up and we are all itching to get summer vacation started! That's right, summer is just around the corner and while we get a break from school and have a more relaxed schedule for fun in the sun, it's always wise to keep up your dancing during summer break. You have worked so hard all year long, why set yourself back by slowing down in the summer? Don't get me wrong, I'm all for taking sometime to relax, staying up late, eating ice cream and swimming until you look like a raisin, but it's all about balance. Your body needs to stay in “dance” shape over the summer to ensure a return back to the 2017-2018 dance season as your best self! Here are some tips to stay on top of your game over the summer-

TAKE YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED CLASSES! If you are a competitive student, you will have regularly scheduled classes built into your summer schedule. Since this is a shortened session of classes, make class a priority and take every class like it's the only class you'll ever get to take again (really that's how you should always take class!). Go into class with full energy and focus, and leave class knowing you gave 110%.

TAKE MORE CLASSES! I don't think anyone will be opposed to you taking an extra ballet class or two at the studio each week! Find some extra classes that you may be interested in at the studio, ask your teacher for permission to enroll, and voila – you're on your way to getting THAT much better.

CROSS TRAIN! Dancers are artists AND athletes, and most athletes cross train to get them in the best shape possible for their desired craft – in your case, DANCE. While any physical activity is good and will ultimately help your dancing, I highly suggest looking into Yoga, Pilates and Barre classes. All of these classes practice many of the principles that we do in dance and will greatly enhance your understanding of your body, balance, strength and overall well-being.

SWIMMING, TOO! Swimming is also a greatly activity for working with resistance (the water) and creating long, lean muscles. Plus, it's fun and the best summer activity there is! Lake Orion, anyone?

STRETCH AT HOME! This is so important. If you only stretch while you are at the dance studio, you are doing yourself a disservice. Muscles don't lengthen and become more flexible if you hold a stretch twice a week for 30 seconds. You must be diligent! If flexibility is your goal (and what dancer doesn't have that goal?), you need to incorporate stretching outside of the studio. Watching your favorite movie? Great! Hold your splits and frog position while your watching. Hate commercials? Perfect! Do back stretches during commercial breaks. Bored in the car during your family road trip. Dynamite! Massage the arches of your feet and work on your point and flex. Its easy kids! Your teachers won't take, “I didn't have time,” for an answer :)

MAKE AN AT-HOME AGENDA! Beyond stretching, think about other things you can work on at home. Make a checklist and check them off each day. Example: Plank for 2 min (Check!), 15 Battements Right and Left (Check!), 30 Push-ups (Check), 10 Pirouettes Right and Left (Check!) ….. the list goes on and on and on and... Ask a teacher to help you put together your checklist based on what they think you could really benefit from.

PRIVATE LESSONS! Crave that one-on-one attention where every correction is specific to you? Ask some of your teachers if they are available to do private lessons with you. Each teacher will have different availability and private lesson rates, so find what works best for you and start working!

KEEP YOUR BODY HEALTHY BY FILLING UP ON HEALTHY TREATS! Okay yes, get some Dairy Queen, for goodness sake, don't deprive yourself! BUT...make healthy summer treats your go to. Top of my list – fresh fruit and fruit smoothies. Corn on the cob, baked potatoes, grilled chicken, homemade popsicles, salads, there are so many yummy and good for you summer foods! Enjoy!

GET A DANCE DIARY! Take a little visit to Staples and buy a cute notebook. Make it your “Dance Diary,” and write all about dance in it. How you fill your pages is up to you, but here are some suggestions: -Write your goals for the summer and for next season -Write a plan of attack for how you will achieve those goals -Write yourself some compliments – what have you improved on, what do you like about your dancing, what makes you special, etc -After class, write down something you learned, a tip/correction your teacher gave you, things you admire about your peers' dancing, something that you liked about dance class, something you didn't like, etc.... Reflect back on the diary to see how much you have grown!

IMPROV IN YOUR BEDROOM! Admit it, you already do it, so why not set time aside for it each day! Turn on some music – ANY music, fast, slow, something you like, something you don't – and MOVE. Don't worry about technique or what you look like, just do what the music makes you do. Do what feels good. Being confident with your movement will help you in all areas of dance and performance.

HAVE DANCE PARTIES WITH YOUR FRIENDS! Summer is the season for sleepovers! Invite your friends over and make up a dance to perform for your parents, make a, do partner stretches, have a dance contest! Dancing with your friends is so much fun and it also helps you to become a better dancer. Just make sure you get to bed by 4am! :)

So there you have it, Miss Jill's suggestions for a dance-filled summer. I promise come September, you will be very glad you kept it up. But for now, get back to the books there is still two months left of school!!