We go through phases, in which we feel ultra-inspired and ready to take on the world. Occasionally, we hit plateaus that seem to drag on. Stagnation sets in and the monotony of the everyday routine starts to feel like a chore. When the one thing you love the most seems to be a burden, you know you’ve hit a state of burnout. Is there insurance on inspiration? How do we find motivation without it?
Personally, I had a period of adjustment after returning from my dance journey in Israel. Our group was dancing 5-11 hours per day, and the rigor was a part of the lifestyle. I loved it and thrived on it. It was not unusual to have 4-5 classes per day plus rehearsals at night. This went on for 5 months. Why then, was it struggle to attend ONE class or TWO classes in a day after returning back to the States? It bewildered me. I felt a serious resistance working against me. My will and desire to go to class was fleeting. It saddened me that the very thing I loved to do the most was something I was convincing myself to enjoy. While I was in class, I did find satisfaction in movement. However, the process of getting there was actually brutal.
I spoke to some dancers in the class who seemed very enthusiastic about making it there, as well. One classmate said she dances for fun now. She surrendered her professional dance career and traded it in for a full-time career with benefits. It sounds appealing. She now goes to class when she can, but says she enjoys it more because it is on her own time, without pressure. That was the key: pressure. I was putting pressure on myself to do something (that I already enjoy). I decided that I needed some time off and space to breathe. I needed to NEED to dance. I wanted to feel a compelling desire that would bring me into the studio.
Fortunately, I had already planned a two-week vacation in Israel. It was a perfectly timed getaway. The trip ended up being a gift from the universe. At the kibbutz, my friends and teachers welcomed me with open arms. The kibbutz will always be a home to me. I took a few ballet classes there and even attended an audition in Tel Aviv. I felt alive, passionate, and connected to dancing. It was purely for enjoyment…no self-imposed pressure. In addition to ballet and some contemporary repertoire, I also had the privilege of going out and experiencing the exuberant night life of Tel Aviv. I danced like mad and didn’t worry about a thing. I felt this inner groove come over of me, and it was incredibly satisfying. I came back to the States with a new sense of purpose. I love to dance, and I want to get my kicks while I still can! Ya’la!
I truly hope that dancers everywhere can experience something fresh and enticing that makes the work that much more satisfying. If we do not actively use our imagination, the day-to-day work can become stale. Here are a few things dancers can try if they feel bored, stuck, or burned out:
– Go to class for YOU. This is an opportunity for you to invest in yourself.
– Treat dance class like a moving meditation. Just stay present throughout all of the exercises and see where that takes you. If you slip away from your intention to be mindful during class, just hop right back in.
– Train for the unknown. It always helps to have a goal in sight, but sometimes we are not sure what that “prize” looks like. Paraphrasing a Nicholas Sparks quote from The Notebook, “Live for the possibility, not the guarantee.” We cannot be certain of what will come out way. We might as well be prepared for prime opportunities when they come along!
– Reconsider your schedule. Time management is key to fitting in those things you prioritize.
– Remember the J.O.D.: Joy of Dance! Why did you choose this life path in the first place…or did it choose you?
Good luck, and DANCE ON!
– Nika Antuanette
Summer Study NYC Graduate