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."
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.
Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.