Getty Images

How Can I Stay Motivated While Training at Home?

Ethan Ahuero was having a good year: he was in his first season dancing with Kansas City Ballet II and had been presented with the opportunity to choreograph on the second company. "The day before we shut down I had a rehearsal, and I was so happy," Ahuero says. "The piece was coming together and this was the first time I felt really proud of my creative process."

Suddenly, the coronavirus pandemic brought everything to a halt. With the company's season cut short and the studios closed, Ahuero found himself attempting to continue dancing from home, with his choreography project put on hold. Like many other dancers around the world, Ahuero is dealing with disappointment while struggling to stay motivated.

Keeping up with daily ballet classes may feel difficult right now; inspiration can seem hard to come by when you're following along on Zoom and short on space at home. Below are a few simple tips for finding new ways to stay motivated.


Spruce Up Your Dance Space

It can be frustrating to train at home when the space doesn't feel like a studio. But changing the room up a little can help. Dancers are coming up with creative solutions: setting up mirrors for self-correction, laying down a square of Marley flooring, even building barres from PVC piping. Creating a makeshift "studio space" can make it easier to get your head into the zone.

Make a To-Do List

Try creating a list of what you want to achieve each week to help you stay on track. Dancers tend to be creatures of habit, so following a schedule can provide normalcy during a very unusual time. If creating a weekly schedule feels overwhelming, make a daily one instead. It's fine to take things a day at a time!

"After feeling a bit lost and unmotivated, I decided to start making daily checklists of things to do so that I had some kind of set schedule each day," says Anamarie McGinn, a company dancer with Orlando Ballet. "Even listing simple things like giving myself class, going for a walk or recording a live workout video for social media keeps me feeling motivated and helps pass the time."

Try the Buddy System

It's easier to stick to a schedule when you're not alone in your efforts. "Dancers have talked to me about not wanting to do class and feeling unmotivated," says Renee Aguilera, ballet mistress at Roanoke Ballet Theatre. "I recommend finding a 'dance friend' to act as an accountability partner that you can do class with," she says. Reach out to a colleague or fellow student (or even a friend you made at a summer intensive) and agree to take a few classes together virtually. Having someone you trust and admire to keep you accountable can help you maintain class attendance and will likely strengthen your friendship, as well.

Get Specific

Zoning in on small goals can give you a sense of purpose. Without rehearsals or choreography projects to factor for, you have extra time to focus on specific weaknesses or details in your technique. Perhaps now is the time to concentrate on that lifted hip correction, or address the positioning and detail of your arms and fingers. Ahuero has begun cross-training and working on building muscle. Returning to the basics is so essential, yet frequently overlooked. When you go back to the studio you will be a more well-rounded dancer—and your teachers will be thrilled, as well!

Take the time to acknowledge that you cannot dance in the way you're used to. Artists are shaped by their experiences, and the trials of this challenging period may even help you grow as a performer. Resilience is a wonderful (and necessary) skill for dancers to have. "Every hard situation brings something positive with it," says McGinn. "For now I take one day at a time, knowing that when we all return to the stage it is going to be magic."

Latest Posts


Because there's never been a better time to binge-watch "Bunheads" (via Freeform)

5 of the Danciest TV Shows Streaming Right Now (and Where to Stream Them)

We're about two months into #SocialDisDancing, and let's be real—while we all wish we were spending every spare minute stretching, cross-training, or taking online classes, sometimes we just need to Netflix and chill.

We figure, if you're going to be watching TV anyways, why not make it dancy TV? After all, watching pros dance on-screen is basically dance class homework...or at least we'll say it is. Here are five of the danciest TV shows for you to watch—and where to find them.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
The cast of Center Stage in a promotional poster (courtesy Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

The Making of "Center Stage," as Remembered by Its Dance Stars

Whether you first watched it in a theater two decades ago or on Netflix last week, odds are you feel a deep connection to Center Stage. The cult classic, which premiered May 12, 2000, is arguably the greatest dance film ever made. (Dance obsessives might take issue with the "cult" before "classic," not to mention the "dance" before "film.") Jody Sawyer's ballet journey—which combines oh-wow-I've-had-those-blisters realism with wait-does-she-have-magic-color-changing-pointe-shoes fantasy—stands the test of time, early-aughts fashion be darned. We've memorized its highly quotable lines, laughed with (and, gently, at) its heroes, and been inspired by its sincere love of dance and dancers.

To celebrate Center Stage's 20th anniversary, we asked five of its dance stars to talk through their memories of the filming process. Here are their stories of on-set bonding, post-puke kissing scenes, and life imitating art imitating life.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

2020 Dance Grads: We Want to Put You on Our Cover!

Hello, all you members of the great Dance Class of 2020. With the world on lockdown, this hasn't been the graduation season you expected. You likely weren't able to go to prom; your commencement ceremonies have probably been delayed or canceled; and you might not have been able to take your planned-for final bow onstage.

Since you're missing out on so much, we'd like to give you a virtual ovation, to recognize all you've accomplished. And what's the highest honor we can bestow? The cover of Dance Spirit!

Here's the plan:

  • If you're a high school or college senior dancer, use this form to submit your information and dance portrait.
  • Each day during the month of May, we'll create a digital Dance Spirit cover starring one of you, chosen at random—31 covers in total.
  • At the end of the month, we'll create a "commencement video" featuring even more of your submitted dance photos.
  • 100 of you, selected by lottery, will also receive free one-year subscriptions to the print magazine.

Merde, 2020 graduates, as you dance your way into the future!

High School and College Senior Dancers: Submit Your Photo Here

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search