Being a student is not easy, and is a handful of work on its own. There is homework, tests, exams, projects, presentations, friends, and a lot more to juggle. And if you are a dancer as well, you can add practice added into this chaos.
For dedicated dancers, who do not want to miss out on academics as well, we have some handy tips and hacks that will help those struggling to find enough time for anything:
Get Organized :
Keep your dance gear in top shape in your free time. There is a place for everything, and everything should be stored and stowed neatly. Learn some handy and time-saving tips take care of your dancewear and make sure you also take care of your school stuff. The more you get organized, the less hassled you are at the last minute.
Get Planning :
Get a planner of one of the great dance apps that also allow organizing your schedule. Use a calendar and mark your class, quizzes, assignments, and tests. Make it a weekly calendar, and keep some scope for last minute recital or performances. Ask your dance teacher for a tentative schedule of events.
A dancer-mom once shared “ I encourage my daughter to start preparing for tests and assignments 2-3 months in advance. It could just be 30 minutes of study every day, but it all adds up in the end and she doesn't have to compromise on her practices later."
Getting organized is a skill that will serve you well in dance, school, even your career, and whole life.
Structure your day very carefully – what time of the day you can focus better on studies and time when you can schedule your practice sessions.
Take Each Day as it Comes
Serious dancers don’t fret our small hurdles. Try to work with what you can. You may have to stay up until 4 am to finish that paper or pull an all-night studying for mid-term. You may be in your fourth year with extreme pressure to focus on your school. All you can do is accept your busy schedule and work around it.
Don’t miss an 8 am Friday lecture because you can always take help from a friend. If you don't have time to sleep, will you be able to go through the notes? Embrace the craziness. You signed up for a hectic life the moment you decided to follow your passion for dance. Prioritize, and leave the rest of your day to work it out on its own.
As a dancer, you have to do it all. So if its dance class for four nights a week, you need to prioritize well. You may want to participate in social activities with friends, but remember that you have to cut out on something and it's only you who can determine what needs to go. Don't end up saying "yes" to everything; you don't want to end up being burned out and frustrated.
Lack of priorities will rob you of the smile on your face, and it will show in your performances too!
Timing is Everything
Not only in dance, but also in real life situations, a schedule is everything. When you are trying to balance your job, friends, school, and family, you can make time for everyone. Just plan it every week. Take your schedule and chalk out how much time you can spend on dance, school, homework, family and so on.
You don’t have to cancel an outing with friends, and your grandma can have her share of a visit from you if only you could time it well. Even if the last minute surprises spring up, take a deep breath and make some cancellations, its okay, and people who love you and care for your passion for dance, will understand.
School comes First, always!
You may feel that dance is more important than school. But the harsh truth is academics still matter. If you can’t find a compromise between dance and school, always pick the latter. Work on a big test between your dance practice or a recital. Get up early, and finish your school work. Keep aside distractions like random web surfing, checking email or messages on Snap-chat when you are studying for school.
Failing in your class can have a significant impact on your future. Create a study group with your dance teammates, and can help each other to revise lessons. You are all sailing in the same boat, and if you are struggling your dance teammates are, too.
If you have a midterm a day before a competition, either you start preparing for both early or skip it. A hard decision, but one that is necessary. Skip the after-party and focus on getting some much-needed rest. Some of you may be on a dance team only because of your school or college. Don't ignore your alma mater.
Be Present - Leave the rest Outside the Door -
While in class, leave your dance worries outside the door. And when dancing, leave your academic stress at home.
Focus on what you are doing, at the moment. Don't stress out over a missed internship while you are performing or practicing your routine. No matter what you do, there is no point feeling gloomy over failures. Dance is an excellent way to relieve some of your academic stress and use it as motivation to do better next time.
Be Honest with Yourself
You must learn to identify yourself as one whole person. You are not two identities, a student, and a dancer. Unless you merge these two aspects of your being, you will remain trapped between your dance ambitions and academic opportunities. Only you understand your full potential and capabilities. Make peace with or work harder but don't cheat on yourself.
Both education and dancing is a life-long learning experience; you don't have to overload yourself with one over the other, create an honest vision of your future and work on it.
Take Time Off
When you are planning it all out, make sure you live some time out for unwinding and rest. You could utilize this time to pursue a fun hobby like painting or reading. Everyone needs a break, and by taking time out, you are giving your mind and body a much-needed window to rejuvenate itself. It is possible You are not going on a break, but you are using this time to rest well, even sleep an extra few hours. Or maybe catching up on a new dance performance at the theater. A de-stressing activity could be just going online to check out the latest range of dancewear and accessories, maybe buy some!
Keep an Eye on Fitness and Nutrition
A healthy and fit body is a pre-requisite for any dancer. Add to it the hectic pace of life as a dancer and a student; you will surely thank your stars if you don't fall sick or succumb to injuries as often as your best friend. Again, balance is the key. Make sure you have a healthy, high protein meal with all food groups included in it. Stay hydrated and always try and get adequate rest. Going for a run every alternate day is one tip that can help you keep fit without any instruments.
Stay injury free by using the right gear. Before and after every practice, remember to stretch yourself well. Your meticulous schedule shouldn't go haywire just because of a pulled hamstring.
Go for a Digital Detox Every Week
Just cut yourself off from social media, chat rooms and internet. As a young dancer and a student, it might be a bit too much, but you HAVE to do it every once in a while. You must have time to listen to your inner voice, give enough mind space to yourself. You can do it only if you cut out the outside noise. As much tempting it is, remember, you don't have time for all this!
Make sure you take a break from social media regularly. You will open up floodgates of free time you never knew existed! Try it and see for yourself!
If you are too serious about your dancing and find it hard to come to terms with focusing on a regular school, you can think about homeschooling. Remember, school experience will help you in having a more productive, fuller and more dynamic experience of your lifetime. But for many student dancers who are considering dance for a career, homeschooling could be a better option.
There are many life lessons that you learn in a dance studio than just dance- passion, teamwork, discipline, self-respect, motivation, and so on, you have to learn to take these lessons and extend them beyond the boundaries of a studio. You will see the difference within yourself that affects your entire life, including your experience as a student.
By careful planning and involving your dance teachers, school teachers, parents, friends, and family, you can surely find a way to make dance compliment your life, not compete with it!
How do you balance school and dance? What advice do you have for other dancers? Share below in the comments.