Dealing With “Burn Out”


By Brian Henninger

Dance is an extremely competitive and athletic field to have a career in. It can be easy and also normal for most dancers to experience a period of time where they feel “burn out”. This burnt out feeling can progress and turn into feelings of depression or even cause some dancers to abandon their journeys due to feeling burnt out by the constant grind that the dance industry demands. Here are a few things you can do proactively to help yourself maintain a level of relaxation and connection to the fun in what we do so that you can prevent the burnout that can come at different points during your career.

Identify the cause of your “burn out”: whenever feelings of being burnt out creep in it is important first to understand WHY you are feeling that way. Are you physically or mentally burnt out?

Physical burn out comes from over exerting yourself and not giving yourself the time to recover fully. This can happen so easily in our line of work because the nature of our business is to always be looking for the next thing. The fact that we don’t get paid highly for what we do also contributes to the workaholic nature of our industry. Since we have this situation in our industry it becomes very important to get into habits of self preservation. These can include getting regular massages, foam rolling, yoga, meditation, having a strict sleep schedule etc. If you don’t have some simple habits in place to help ensure you get rest, your body will break down much faster.

Mental burn out is more tricky to tackle because we can have all the energy in the world but for some reason our desire to dance can be completely gone for periods of time for some people. Mental burnout can have many causes, and it can come without any warning. I have noticed that mental burnout can come after doing a big gig and then entering a period of time where nothing else is on the horizon work wise. Even though its the nature of our business to have periods of time where we are waiting for the next thing to come, this is often the time where people can freak out about where their career is headed, and start to almost get a small case of depression or anxiety about it. This is not only normal but it can also be avoided in a proactive way. The best way to keep mental burnout away is to have other areas of creative expression or recreation that you are involved with. Whether its teaching, or choreographing for competition teams, judging, acting, etc, having an outlet to go to when auditioning, and performing becomes too much.

I have said it before and i’ll say it again dance as a career is a long game. You can’t rush real success, therefore its smart to pace yourself and put your health and happiness first. Other wise you may get to the level of monetary or professional success that you’ve dreamed of but might be too miserable and jaded to even enjoy it. Be smart and take care of yourselves. Always remember how lucky we are to do what we do!


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