9 Tips to Avoid Nutcracker Burnout
Nutcracker, the ballet that brings joy to thousands each holiday season and every other emotion to dancers. Whether you do 45 shows of Nutcracker or two shows, November and December can be stressful months filled with holiday themed performances. It’s easy to get sick of performing or rehearsing Walt of the Flowers for the 50th time. Here are some tips for fighting Nutcracker burnout.
1. Get Enough Sleep
No matter what your performance or rehearsal schedule, it’s always important to get enough sleep. Sleep allows your muscles to repair, your short-term memory get stored in your long-term memory, and revive your energy levels.
The rate of possible injury goes down when an athlete gets more sleep. Ideally, dancers should be getting around 8-9 hours of sleep each night.
2. Listen to Other Music
The first thing that always burns me out during Nutcracker is the music. I get very sick of hearing the same score over and over again. It doesn’t help that you hear Nutcracker music on tv, the radio, the mall, literally everywhere from early November through Christmas.
Tune it out as much as possible and listen to other music; it could be your favorite holiday music, hard rock, a different ballet, soundtracks, whatever makes you happy.
3. Pack Healthy Snacks and Meals
You need food to fuel yourself in order to get through shows and rehearsals. Give yourself lots of meal and snack options because you never know what you day will entail. When you go to eat lunch or your snack and you didn’t love what you packed it’s the absolute worst.
You either begrudgingly eat what you packed, or go out in search of something else, which might not be possible depending on your schedule. Pack fruit for a natural sugar based energy, carbohydrates for sustained energy, nuts for protein and healthy fat, and veggies for vital vitamins and minerals.
4. Do a Holiday Activity
Nutcracker is not the only way to get into the holiday spirit. Choose a nice, relaxing activity that you can do on your day off.
Watch a movie, go shopping, take a walking or driving tour of your town to see all of the holiday decorations, make cookies or healthy snacks with friends. I would not advise ice-skating until you’re done performances, because freak accidents do happen!
5. Go Out to Eat with Friends or Family
It’s easy to get stuck in a food rut no matter what time of year. After a performance, go out to dinner with friends and/or family. It gives you an opportunity to try a new dish, and get new ideas for meals. Being social is a good way to get out of that Nutcracker bubble, especially while spending time with non-dancers.
6. Massage Your Muscles Often
Your body takes a lot of abuse during performances. Many stages are not sprung and because of adrenaline, you might not feel the effects of jumping on a hard stage until later that night or even until performances are over.
Massage your muscles with foam rollers, tennis balls, take Epsom salt baths, and if you can afford it get a professional massage. Compression socks also help alleviate tight calves and ankles.
7. Meditate or go to Yoga
Yoga and meditation are a great way to unwind both your mind and your body. In the cold months hot yoga feels especially great on sore and tight muscles. It’s also great cross training for your day off that works different muscles than the ones you use in rehearsal.
8. Find A Way to Make Each Performance Special
Nutcracker can start to lack luster when you’re doing Snow for the 20th time. Find a way to make each performance special. Give yourself something to focus on each show.
For example, focus on pointing your feet to the max one show, your energy level the next show, and your facial expression on the third show. Remember, at least one person in the audience is experiencing Nutcracker for the first time. Think of making each performance as magical as the first time you saw it.
9. Find New Inspiration
Go for a walk, read a book, watch a documentary (Wendy Whelan’s “Restless Creature” is now on Netflix), and take class from a new teacher. Do anything that will inspire and renew your creativity.