From summer to fall: Heading back to school fresh

It’s always a bit sad when we sense that summer is coming to an end. Perhaps you had an incredible experience at a multi-week dance intensive, or ventured to various workshops to learn new things, or maybe you had some down time with your friends and family. No matter how you spent your summer, it’s almost time for back to school, and back to dance. This time of year can feel bittersweet – you’re excited to start a new year of dance, but you’re also grieving over the soon-to-be-gone dog days of summer. 

Well, these Broadway Dance Center teachers are here to help you start your new school year feeling fresh and inspired! 

“I like the feeling of freshness that comes each September,” says Kate Loh, ballet teacher at BDC. “Students are refreshed from their summer experiences but also motivated and inspired to begin the new year. There’s an energy and feeling of excitement that I love and try to maintain all year long!”

Emily Bufferd teaching at BDC.

Emily Bufferd, BDC faculty and producer of The Young Choreographer’s Festival, says that, as a young dancer, the end of the summer leading into a new dance season was always so exciting. “I got to walk in knowing I had spent my summer training and really working hard so that I was going to come back in the fall a stronger dancer, both physically and mentally.”

But for some, there is still a sadness about summer coming to an end. “When I was a teenager, my school in Japan had shows and festivals for the summer,” explains Yuka Kawazu, ballet faculty at BDC. “So I was spending all my time in the studio or theater learning new pieces, helping my teachers, rehearsing. I was just so happy to be in the studio and in the theater. At the end of the summer, I was a little sad because all the fun stuff was over.”

Yuka Kawazu with students at BDC.

The fall is a terrific time to have a “can do”, “go get it” attitude. And with some simple tips, you can also ensure that this positivity lasts past September and further into the new dance year. 

Setting goals is a great way to start. “Write them down, and try to review them at the start of each month,” suggests Loh. “A new school year is a new start, a chance to reflect on your previous year and think about how you’d like to approach the upcoming season with the knowledge you gained over the summer. Find a teacher you feel comfortable with and share these goals. There’s nothing I love more than helping a hungry and dedicated student achieve their dreams!”

Your teachers are there to help you – to grow, to learn – so be excited to make that connection with your teachers this fall. “Walk in with openness to whatever your teachers throw at you, and to see it all as an opportunity to grow,” Bufferd advises. 

Kate Loh. Photo by Rachel Neville Photography.

Similarly, Loh says, “You may be exposed to new teachers or new styles in the coming year, so be like a sponge and try to absorb it all. You may be surprised by what you learn and where it leads you. Intelligence and versatility will always be valued in the dance world.” 

And take these last few weeks of summer to catch up on some rest before the new school year is in full swing. “Take advantage of the extra time without school to sleep in and create healthy habits for the upcoming year,” Loh suggests. “If you’ve taken time off after summer intensives, be sure to prepare yourself physically before heading back to the studio. No one wants to start the year off with an injury!”

And remember how you started the summer – with a sense of excitement, maybe a good feeling of nervousness and extreme eagerness. These feelings can lead you into the fall as well, and throughout your dance career. 

“You shouldn’t forget the spirit that you started with,” Kawazu says, adding, “Let’s refocus on building up clean technique, and being the music. And make some new friends!”

The fall is a perfect time to get inspired. As the leaves begin to change and a slight chill passes through the air, let that freshness transpire into your dancing. 

“I love the beginning of the year!” Bufferd says. “I always start by making goals sheets with my students (something that I actually learned from one of my mentors, BDC Faculty Member Ginger Cox). We sit down with pen and paper on the very first day of class to answer some questions about what our expectations and hopes are for the year, and how we can best approach achieving them. I love reading my students’ goals sheets. It aids me as a teacher to dive in to best be able to help them achieve what they dream of, and to set a trajectory for class that is helpful, and also realistic.” 

By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa. 

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