Dance is a beautiful and elegant art but our sport requires so much strength and endurance in order for dancers to make it look so effortless. Dancers train hard numerous days of the week to master their craft and sometimes over 40 hours a week during competition season. As soon as competition season rolls around the corner, dance studios begin the non-stop rehearsals and extra weekend practices. You sometimes are dancing for 7 days a week with no break in sight.
To help reduce the risk of injuries, giving adequate time to rest and recover your dancers' bodies is very beneficial. It’s important to schedule your rehearsals for competitions at least 8-10 hours between the next call time.
Very common examples are: Running a 5-hour rehearsal until 10:30 P.M., going over an hour until 11:30 P.M. (you know they always go over), having your dancers start competition the next day at 8 A.M.. By the time the dancer gets home, eats, showers and heads to bed, it’s at least 12:30 am - 1:30 am and they need to be back up at 6:30 am to get up, eat and head to the competition. That gives the dancer about 5-6 hours of sleep on a good day. Then the dancers are expected to be at the competition all day until 10:30 pm and sometimes even later to do it all over again the next day. How is a dancer supposed to get through such an important weekend with putting their body through so much with only 5-6 hours of sleep?
Those extra hours of rehearsals that you think are benefiting the performance can actually be considered too much training for your dancers and can cause overuse in the body which can lead to injuries. The last thing a dance teacher wants right before a competition is for their dancers to get injured. To keep doing it over and over again puts a lot of strain on your body and builds-up inflammation. When that inflammation isn’t being taken care it will only continue build-up chronic pain.
Dance teachers need to give their students the time off for the students’ muscles to repair and rebuild. In Dance Spirit Magazine’s How Rest and Recovery Can Take Your Dancing to the Next Level by Helen Rolfe,
"When you work hard in class or rehearsal, micro-tears form in the fibers of your muscles.” Dancers need the right amount of sleep to help with the body and grow more strength within their training. “Getting eight hours of uninterrupted, high-quality sleep—more like 9 or 10 if you're training intensely or still growing—is also crucial.”
So the next time you are creating your competition schedule, keep in mind how much time you are giving for rest and recovery to help your dancers.
Their bodies will thank you!