**PLEASE NOTE THIS IS NOT ABOUT ANY ONE PARTICULAR PERSON! I want that to be understood. This isn’t about my students or any one individual, just a general collection of thoughts!!!**
It’s class day. You have a cold. You are exhausted. You just moved or you had an extremely difficult day at the office. You feel stressed and tense and tired, and everything aches. You want to curl up with a blanket, or maybe just hide in your room or watch that last three episodes of walking dead that have been eluding you for several weeks while they take up room on your DVR. You just want to ignore the world and give it a proud middle finger. But this, my friends, is precisely when you should be getting up and going to class.
(Eeew, rainy weather! Hard to get motivated when it looks like this outside.)
Let me clarify that as a dance instructor, teachers understand that everyone has ‘a day’ now and then. I have bowed out of classes I was taking to stay home and nurse an illness or let myself heal, or to deal with family drama or any plethora of other issues. No decent instructor will give you hell for staying home when you need to heal, and if they do, you really need to consider visiting another instructor! Urgent show rehearsals, tech weeks for shows or other integral issues aside, if you need a night, take a night. Trust me, we get it.
(Don’t these chicks look happy?? There is a REASON for that! )
That having been said, when you are at your lowest, what you need is an amp up! Attending class is more than just going to get a workout or something that will be potentially physically strenuous. Yes, it will be work. But dancing is beneficial to your mental and emotional health in multiple ways. It gives you a chance to ease the stresses that have bunched in your muscles and stretch those tight hammies out, releasing toxins and relaxing the body. It raises your heart rate and gets the RIGHT chemicals and endorphins pumping through your system. It makes your brain wake up and forces it to start exercising in its own way, which can be very helpful in clearing a “foggy or unclear” head. And let’s face it, dance is FUN! There is nothing quite as awesome as that moment when you push yourself hard and reach the goal you’ve set for yourself, and you manage a cross-step with a glut hit with an undulation on top and perfect posture! Those are what I call “light bulb moments”, when your brain and your body suddenly learn to speak the same language!
You have clearly started coming to dance class because you find it enjoyable. So why would you deny yourself of something fun just because it will take a bit of work? I cannot tell you how many times I have bitched and moaned leading up to a dance class as a student, but once I was done and out of there I was in a great mood. As my buddy and fellow dance instructor Kelly Holder once sagely told me, dance can be therapeutic, as long as you don’t treat it like therapy.
But here’s the other side of the coin; TEACHERS have those same nights as you do. We want to stay home and watch TV or eat all of the Ben and Jerry’s in the world. We want to sleep or chill, or spend time with our spouses or significant others who have given us up 2, sometimes 3 nights a week or more to our craft. We want to say ‘screw it’ and stay home to eat idiotic amounts of pasta and curl up on the couch with a good book. We would rather stay home to resolve a fight with our husbands or wives, or mourn the passing of a loved one. We get colds, bronchitis, muscle tears, and suffer through injuries large and small. We often literally put our lives on hold to teach.
And we do it for you.
I am NOT saying this as a guilt trip; though I am sure plenty of people will see it this way. I feel like I have to emphasize the fact that I am not trying to make anyone feel bad intentionally. What I am trying to do, however, is to make it clear to you that instructors are people too! We have the same life issues as everyone else. But we have taken a vow and made a commitment to help you through your education in dance. We put loads of time into what we do, from rehearsing at home to paying for our own continuing education and performances. And we have gone through the same things that you have!
I feel that dance students need to start seeing their classes as something fun and enlightening. If you see it as work, you’re taking the wrong mentality. If you go into it miserable or expecting it to be a nightmare of work every week, taking a break may not be a bad idea! Yes, dance class should engage you and make you work. But if you aren’t enjoying it, what the heck are you doing??
Be proactive about your physical and mental health and get your butt to the dance studio. Your body will thank you for it, I promise!