‘I’m just so busy’ has to be the most common phrase vented by anyone living a Western lifestyle these days. Like many of you, dance is not my full-time occupation. First, I had to fit my practice around school work and extra-curricular activities. Then I had to learn to (somewhat) balance a (somewhat) professional dance career with a full-time job, often while studying as well!
Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way:
What Do You Want Out of Dance?
Is dance your hobby or social activity for the week – perhaps you need to put in some extra hours to learn choreography or for the annual studio show? Or do you want to perform professionally or teach?
Your choice will influence how often and how hard you have to practice.
You Have to Want It
Now you know WHAT you want, but HOW MUCH do you want it? Think about the end goal here – how proficient do you want to be for that studio show or how well do you want to nail that tricky new drill combo?
How Much Time Do You Actually Need?
Realistically, how much time do you need for your practice? Chances are you need less than you think. Don’t overwhelm yourself and be over-ambitious, they’re the greatest motivation killers. Practicing a drill combo for 10 minutes every day might be sufficient?
Just Get Up and Do What You Need to Do
My first Tribal Fusion teacher, Marissa, from Soma Fusion Belly Dance Company in Cape Town, once said to me that she gets up every day and just does what she needs to do. She probably doesn’t remember, but the remark stuck with me!
It’s the same in your dance practice – just get up (off the couch, bed, comfy armchair, pool noodle etc.) and do what you need to do. Just do it. Stop faffing.
Practice Small Habits
Incorporate small habits into your life – daily, weekly and monthly. Drills for 10 minutes in the morning or during lunch or right before you go to bed. An hour on the weekend. Think about no. 1 – 4 again when adding these practices.
Priorities & Choices
While working full-time, I desperately wanted to get overseas to train and perform so I sacrificed pretty much ALL my annual work leave to do so. I didn’t take a proper holiday for over 2 years. Probably not the best idea…but I managed to attend 3 overseas festivals and 1 local one.
Perhaps your priority is raising a family – that’s great, be a parent and then carve out time to dance. Back to no. 1 – what do you want? It’s all about choices – don’t beat yourself up for not practicing 5 hours a day when you’re doing the school run, shopping and attending weekend sporting activities.
You have to claim your practice time
We were talking about all this in class recently when long-time friend and student, Fiona, said that you have to CLAIM your practice. This minute/hour/day is MINE – shut the door, go to the studio, make friends and family aware of this COMMITMENT. 10 minutes or 10 hours – claim the time for it!
Music, YouTube videos, books and even movies often inspire my dance practice. Anything creatively stimulating can inspire you to try new things or improve your dancing – and if you feel yourself getting bored during your practice, change it up a bit!
But mostly, you just have to DO it.