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Shooting for the Stars

Shooting for the Stars:

Wanting to be a Successful Dancer and Student

Balancing dance and school can be hard… especially when you want to excel at both! Sometimes being a committed dancer and committed scholar can be more stressful than it is fun. Although, at times, that stress is inevitable, there are so many ways to relieve this stress and to make the journey as both a dancer, and a student, as fun and enjoyable as it should be! Here are a few tips and tricks I have learned through my time as both a committed dancer and a committed scholar, on how to set yourself up for success in both!

1. Time. My freshman year I always felt like I was running out of time! I would go to school for six and a half hours, then have dance from four to five hours after that- everyday! By the time I got home I had so much homework it seemed like I was constantly pulling all-nighters struggling just to get assignments done, not even having time to study for quizzes or tests, or even to truly understand the material at hand. Not to mention, not having time to do things I enjoy in my free time like reading or hanging out with my friends- because I didn’t have any free time! If this sounds like you, then that’s a major issue! My grades suffered that year, and I didn’t see a lot of growth or improvement in my dancing. It seemed like I was always too tired to really commit myself to class either at school or at dance. I knew something had gone very wrong that year, but it taught an important lesson, if you want to be successful, you need to set yourself up for success. Running yourself dry will do you no good! To set myself up for success, I planned a schedule tailored around what I needed- less time at school, more time to sleep, and more time with my family. I enrolled at Green River College through their running start program, where high school students can take up to 15 credits worth of classes for free! By doing this I knew I would only have three hours of class every day and would be able to choose what time of day my classes were at. I now only have three hours of school everyday instead of six and a half, I now have my alarm set for 9:30 am instead of 6:30 am, and most importantly I now enjoy both my time at school and at dance! There is nothing wrong with taking an alternative path if that’s what works best for your lifestyle and your happiness. There are so many different options out there it’s insane! My sophomore year I took 3 classes online and 3 at the high school so I could still see my friends but also free up a little more time. These past two years have looked a lot different for me than they do for most high school students, but they’ve made a world of difference in my grades, dancing, and happiness. Make your schedule work for what you need- there’s more options than you think!

2. Sleep. I think we all need a little more of this right? When you’re tired it’s hard to focus in class at school and it’s hard to commit yourself to class at dance. I think we can all agree it feels a million times harder it be productive when you’re tired, which makes it really hard to be a committed dancer or a committed scholar… let alone both! The magical solution for this struggle is of course more sleep, and if that means spending a little less time watching YouTube or scrolling through Instagram before you fall asleep than that might just be a sacrifice you’ll have to be willing to make! But seriously, if you’re spending an extra half hour or hour on your phone every night, that is precious sleep being lost! Although this is down time we all enjoy, there are things you’re going to have to give up if you want the most out of school and dance. As aforementioned: if you want to be successful, you must set yourself up for success, and key factors in achieving success are being able to be attentive, committed, focused, and energized. All things you need sleep in order to be!

3. Know yourself; school. Knowing how your brain works and what helps you to be successful in your classes is one of the most important aspects of being a committed student. As a dancer and a student, you don’t have all day to write an essay or to figure out how to do a math problem! Therefore, knowing when and how your brain works, when it’s at its fastest and when you are the most focused will benefit you greatly! Metacognition! Shout out to Sara Palmer for teaching me these great tools in 8th grade English (-: An example of what I’m trying to get at can be seen in the way I run my day. I know that my brain is most active, and at its fastest working speed at night, I know I need to be at a desk or table to concentrate, and I know the room needs to be well lit or I will doze off. Most importantly I know I need my phone to be far, far away from me. So, I do my homework after dance, at my desk, with all the lights on. I have my school schedule worked out so that it really doesn’t matter if I need to stay up late, because I can sleep in until 9:30 and still get 9+ hours of sleep. Knowing yourself, knowing how your brain works, and knowing what your body needs are all vital if you are both a committed student and a committed dancer!

4. Know yourself; dance. The same sort of concept applies to dance as school work. Crazy right! Do five-hour dance nights Monday through Friday benefit you? Physically and mentally, what number of hours per week are you able to be fully present and committed in class? If you are not present or committed to your classes, then you’re not using your time the best you can! I know for me personally I do best if I’m in class Monday through Thursday from 4:15 to 9:15 with a one-hour break. If I don’t have the hour break, then the night feels too long, and I find it hard to be present in my last class. Understanding how to push yourself, but also where to draw the line is such an important part of being a committed dancer!

I hope at least one of these tips gave you something to think about! Being a committed student and dancer will always be a lot to balance but it doesn’t have to be as hard as you think!

Best of wishes to you in both your academics, and dancing!

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