It’s a question often asked by dancers who are excited about discovering a new craft. What is the optimal balance between dance practice and the “rest” of life?

The answer depends on a number of factors. If your goals are competitive, you might be looking at spending three to four hours in lessons and practice most days of the week. For more casual dancers, practicing at one’s own pace is a good motto. But for all dancers, when fatigue sets in and your technique starts to suffer, it’s usually a good time to stop and rest. This can help prevent you from developing bad habits in your movement.

The best answer to the question, “How often should I practice?” should come from yourself. Part of the joy of being a dancer working at any level is learning to be in touch with and to listen to your body, your mind, and your heart so that you can intuitively know when to move forward and when to slow down, or even take a break. The body is much more susceptible to strain and injury when it is exhausted.

Sometimes, in the early phases of our training, we are so enthusiastic that we may overdo things, not out of foolishness but simply because we don’t know any better yet. We have not had the time to learn the status of our body’s physical limits, and we might even learn the hard way. But there are some basic guidelines you can follow to prevent this from happening:

  • Stretch before you hit the floor.
  • Ask your instructor if you have questions or concerns.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Eat nutritiously.
  • Balance your dance practice with other interests and activities.

Above all, have fun and happy dancing!