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
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
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!
"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.
A version of this story appeared in the January 2019 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Make Winter Break Work For You."