We’ve had our schedules stripped back and our plans ripped in two- being a dancer in 2020 certainly does not look too promising. As dancers, we excel because we are naturally productive, motivated and committed- we get a kick out of achievement and constantly try to seek out new opportunities. So, being in a situation where we have to succumb to dancing around our own sofas has certainly never been on our radar.
You want to go out, you want to get back to the studio, you want to perform, but most importantly you want to keep leaning towards success. But you can’t. It isn’t actually allowed.
When a naturally motivated dancer is stopped from working hard, what happens? They lose their momentum. They go from wanting to achieve absolutely everything, to wanting to look dancing in the eyes and scream.
Ironically, the newly-imposed laws of lockdowns have landed us in a world with fewer rules than ever- for many of us, we can do what we like, when we like (as long as it’s inside).
We are suddenly now the artistic directors of our own lives and the stand-alone principals of our bedroom dance studios. We’re not accustomed to all of this nothingness, so we’re finding it tough.
But, I’ve experienced the opposite of this. Being in an environment with so much time and freedom had accelerated my creative ambition and sky-rocketed my overall happiness. Remaining productive is all about perspective- learn to absorb these sensitive times in a way that doesn’t limit you from achieving what you’ve already had planned. Once you can adapt to the new circumstances and relish in this totally unique scenario, you will reap unparalleled benefits. Seriously.
1. Create an Achievement Plan
Many of us dancers like to have some sort of direction- we like to see where we are going. One of the reasons why so many dancers struggle with time away from routine is because we just don’t know what to do first. We often have a manifest of ideas and plans, but no idea of where to begin.
Take time to collect together a list of your ambitions, regardless of how big or small they may be. Create an action plan, detailing exactly how these aspirations can be achieved. These can be tiny steps or huge leaps- just record whatever you need to do in order to arrive at your desired destination.
Try to think of a handful of aspirations that surround a variety of topics- they could be career/job related, fitness goals, friendships, happiness levels or other aspirations from your bucket list. Consider each goal as if it is actually going to happen- completely disregard the concept of a ‘pipe-dream’.
Once you have created a list of goals, alongside the steps that you need to take to get there, get started. Now.
2. Get Listing
Try to adapt around the fact that you are probably stuck at home and focus on the aspirations that are still achievable, or can be worked towards, during these times. Write a weekly plan, detailing what tasks you’re going to combat each day. Always look towards the bigger picture and ensure that you’re using your time wisely to actually end up where you want to be.
Everyday, wake-up and write a list of what you’re going to achieve on that day. Try to make your days varied, yet productive- stick to completing short and snappy tasks, rather than spending the whole day trying to drill away at one thing.
The tighter and more realistic your daily list is, the less likely you are to procrastinate. If your list is full of engaging and enjoyable activities, the more you’ll stick to it, too.
Not only will you be feeling busy and useful, but you’ll also be satisfying your desire to keep achieving exactly what you want.
3. Self-care, everyone
As dancers, we’re often self-confessed workaholics- we enjoy what we do so much, that we’ll work until every element of enjoyment is sapped out of our systems.
Being in a studio environment, where we are often forced to take breaks, is no longer an option, so we have to make sure we are taking control of ourselves. Working ceaselessly can be massively counter intuitive during these times- often, the more we overload ourselves with work, the less we will actually get done.
Try to work in short, productive bursts and give yourself a generous scoop of down-time. Scientists have previously found that the optimum time to take a break is every 50-90 minutes, otherwise you’ll struggle to focus (and be productive).
Remember that in any usual day, you would spend time travelling, chatting to people, checking your phone, listening to music and hanging out with friends. Therefore, spending every minute of every day just doing work, during lockdown, is not natural and it’s not normal. Treat every day as a normal day that has just been moved indoors. Prioritise whatever you would usually prioritise.
4. Try Something Else
A huge problem that we are currently being forced to tackle is the ‘B’ word:
As dancers, we are used to lapping-up new challenges and opportunities- so being in such a mundane ‘lock-down’ environment, is fairly soul-destroying. We enjoy combatting new tasks and we find pleasure in the quickly-paced dance world.
But it’s almost impossible to replicate this now, as you squint at your phone screen in your living room, half-way through a Zoom dance class.
However, one of the easiest ways to satisfy your craving for doing something different is to actually try doing something different. Sure, you love to dance, but why not try writing or reading about dance, painting, drawing, learning and instrument, reviewing televised performances or creating a choreography playlist? All of these activities compliment dancing wonderfully and will satisfy your desire to be creative, whilst unlocking a new challenge that you have yet to scale.
The bottom line is: find variety and find balance. Fill your days with constructed challenges that are engaging enough to sustain your attention. When utilised properly, these locked-down times offer an abundance of opportunities and pleasures- you just have to chase after them.
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About the Author
Mia is the founder and director of Audition Quest, as well as a freelance writer. Having written commissions for dance institutes, various dance magazines, professional dancers, casting directors and industry leaders, she has a large amount of knowledge and experience within the written dance scene.
She is also a guest blogger for a variety of online blogs and publications.
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