by Marketing Intern Rachael Appold

Stepping into Studio A at Joy of Motion Friendship Heights, I felt a little bit nervous. I was taking an intermediate level jazz class with former Alvin Ailey dancer, Maurice Johnson. I had taken plenty of drop-in classes here before, but I was returning after a few weeks of stagnation. I’d just graduated from college and was still reeling from commencement, grad photos, and the last final exams of my undergrad career. The idea of going to class had temporarily been pushed out of my brain. It had only been two weeks, but I’m that one dancer in the room who, after even one missed class, loses their flexibility, balance, and ability to not look lost while dancing. I’m going to go in here and embarrass myself, I thought.

But as I put my bags to the side of the studio and sat on the floor, I began chatting with the other students. As it turns out, I was not the only one coming back from a break; there were students in class who were returning from weeks, months, even years away from a dance studio. Although the class was intense, I found myself getting back into the dance class mindset (as I like to call it) the moment class began. That may be due to Maurice’s wonderful style of teaching. The class included Horton-based technique that left me covered in sweat! Aside from getting my body used to dancing again, this class is an excellent workout! If you’re looking for a jazz class that will leave you feeling strong and energized, sign up for Maurice Johnson’s jazz classes.

The thought of returning from a dance-hiatus, whether intentional or not, can be a scary one. Some of us may be afraid of injuring ourselves on our first day back. Some of us want to be assured that dance is still in our muscle memory. Some may be unsure of what level to take and what modifications to make. All of these concerns are quite common, which is why I have made a list of tips to keep in mind when returning from a break:                                                                             

  1. CHOOSE THE CLASS THAT IS BEST FOR YOU. This tip is especially useful if this is your first time taking class at JOMDC. One great thing about our website is that visitors are able to click on the names of classes on the drop-in schedule page and read about what our classes have to offer. Does a certain class description sound like it’s right up your alley? Go for it! Does it sound like it may be too advanced for a returning dancer? Work your way up to it. I chose Maurice’s intermediate jazz class because I was never able to fit jazz into my schedule in college and I wanted to get back into it. Maurice did not disappoint; his intense center combination helped me to make my jazz comeback!
  1. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Dance hiatuses can do a number on our bodies. Although muscle memory may still be present, our flexibility and stamina can teeter on the edge. It can be easy to forget about our time off and accidentally push too hard. Take it slow. It’s much better to work your way up than it is to push so hard that you can’t walk the next morning. Make modifications as you see fit. Are push-ups a little too intense right now? Bring your knees down to the floor for this exercise.
  1. BRING WATER. I know, I know. This is common sense. But trust me; this tip needs to be taken seriously. Not having a water bottle is awful even if you’ve been taking classes regularly, so imagine how grueling it must be when your body has gotten used to not Dancing. Then, the day before a class, hydrate! Hydrate the day of class and eat for fuel.
  1. DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS. It’s easy to walk into a dance class after a long break and feel a little awkward standing next to someone who has been taking classes every week. But it’s important to keep in mind that no matter how much experience anyone else in the room has, you’re all here taking the same class. This sentiment rang true as Maurice talked to us about his experiences with auditions. “I’ve had dancers come up to me at auditions and ask what shows I’ve been in. I tell them the work I’ve done and they say ‘whoa, you’ve done all that?!’ and I say ‘yes, and I’m here auditioning for the same show as you.’” Adopt this attitude and focus on your own learning when taking class.

There you have it! These tips will help you get back into the dance class flow! Do you have any tips for breaking a dance hiatus? Let me know in the comments section below!