5 Ways Dancers Can Make The Most of Winter Break

Michaela Harrington in Amy Ernst's Believe (photo by Ed Flores, courtesy University of Arizona School of Dance)

Ah, winter break: two to four weeks of well-deserved time off. While you might just feel like using your break to become one with the couch (no judgment!), we have a few ideas you should hear on how to prep for the best spring semester ever.


Get Ahead of the Game

After finals, the last thing you feel like doing is signing up for more classes. But if your university offers a January term, you should consider taking advantage—especially if you're double-majoring or graduating early. University of Arizona senior Michaela Harrington (a double major in dance and neuroscience) says if your school doesn't offer a winter session, you might look into whether a community college course taken during the break could count towards general-education requirements—or if your school offers winter courses online.

Tune Up Your Time Management

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The slog from midterms to finals can reveal cracks in even the most put-together dancer's organizational skills. "When you finally stop moving, you have time to reflect and question what may benefit you most next semester," says University of Arizona associate professor of dance and undergraduate advisor Elizabeth George-Fesch. "When you're in the midst of the semester again, you won't have time to do a lot of self-reflection." Use this time off to reflect on what might've gone wrong this fall, and how you might avoid similar pitfalls in the spring.

Choose Your Own (Cross-Training) Adventure

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Professor George-Fesch says many U of Arizona dancers focus on Pilates, yoga, or another kind of cross-training during winter break: "They're giving their bodies a break from dance, but they're still moving and staying in shape." Cross-training over break is especially important if you've recently recovered from an injury, or if your spring schedule will be heavy on technique classes or demanding rehearsals.

Do a Different Dance

Thinking of teaching dance in the future? Volunteer at your home studio. Are you a bunhead who's always been curious about tap? Now's your chance. Or maybe you'll explore different choreographic ideas on your own, without the stress of an assignment. Point is, time off can be a rare pressure-free opportunity to explore new facets of your passion for dance.

Or Give Yourself a Break!

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"Going into senior year, I've realized a lot of students have a semester where they bite off more than they can chew," says Harrington. "It's important to understand when it's too much for you." TL;DR: it's more than OK to spend these weeks off relaxing and spending time with family and friends back home. The more rested and refreshed you are heading back to school, the better you'll dance, study, and—most importantly—feel.

Sponsored by A Wish Come True
Courtesy A Wish Come True

With so much else on your plate, from navigating virtual learning to keeping your studio afloat, it can be tempting to to cut corners or to settle for less in order to check "costumes" off of this season's to-do list. Ultimately, though, finding a costume vendor you trust is paramount to keeping your stress levels low and parent satisfaction high, not to mention helping your students look—and feel—their absolute best. Remember: You are the client, and you deserve exceptional service. And costume companies like A Wish Come True are ready to go above and beyond for their customers, but it's important that you know what to ask for. Here are some tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your costume company.

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Higher Ed
Charles Anderson (center) in his (Re)current Unrest. Photo by Kegan Marling, courtesy of UT Austin

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Until now, that is. Within the last three years, two master's programs have cropped up, each the first of its kind: Ohio University's MA in community dance (new this fall), and the University of Texas at Austin's dance and social justice MFA, which emerged from its existing MFA program in 2018. These two programs join the University of San Francisco's undergraduate performing arts and social justice major, with a concentration in dance, which has been around since 2000.

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Teacher Voices
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As many dance teachers begin another semester of virtual teaching, it is time to acknowledge the fact that virtual classes aren't actually accessible to all students.

When schools and studios launched their virtual dance programs at the beginning of the pandemic, many operated under the assumption that all their students would be able to take class online. But in reality, lack of access to technology and Wi-Fi is a major issue for many low-income students across the country, in many cases cutting them off from the classes and resources their peers can enjoy from home.

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