Traveling the world to dance: it’s the stuff dreams are made of, right?
But what is everyday life really like on tour? Does it live up to the hype?
The answer hinges on a lot of factors, such as the size of the show, the location of the tour, the length of the engagement, and the people you work with.
But regardless of the show, time, or place, there are some survival rules that always stay the same.
Here are the top five tips to surviving a tour:
It sounds obvious: get a good night’s sleep before a show. But what would ordinarily be a given in your own bed and home can be a whole different challenge in a foreign city.
Jet lag, excitement, even homesickness—all these factors can affect your show abroad.
Plan ahead. Know the time difference. Try setting aside fifteen minutes before bed to relax. Pick up a book or a soothing piece of music.
What’s your go-to snack on tech day? Fruit, granola, nuts—maybe a piece of chocolate. What about dinner before a show? Probably something protein and carb-rich, but not overly heavy.
It’s easy to plan your meals when everything is stocked in your cupboard at home. But what happens when you land in Paris at 1:00 am and have tech at 11:00? You don’t want to find yourself in an eight-hour rehearsal without food.
Plan ahead. Google nearby grocery stores before you arrive, and head out early to pick up your favorite snacks.
As dancers, our bodies regularly take a lot of pressure. We’re used to waking up sore from class or rehearsal, and we know to pay attention when our ankle doesn’t feel right at the barre.
Listening to your body is essential while on tour. You might be sitting on a bus or a plane for seven hours—and then need to hit the splits immediately afterward. With that kind of schedule, your body is at risk for injury.
Warm up and cool down properly. Take an extra ten minutes before and after rehearsal to check in, and pay attention to anything that doesn’t feel right.
At the end of the day, give yourself a massage, ice bath, or heat treatment. You’ll thank yourself in the morning.
Do you normally cross train with yoga or pilates? Life on tour doesn’t mean that has to stop. In fact, your body will probably feel stronger and healthier if you can stick to your regular regime while traveling.
Don’t overdo it. If your body feels exhausted, then give it a day off, or compromise by cutting your routine in half.
When you’re on tour, you have a responsibility to take care of yourself first, and perform at 100% capacity.
But with that said, don’t forget that you’re on tour—this isn’t just a normal tech week or a normal show. This is a show for a brand new audience. You are a guest in a new place, and it’s important to get outside, meet people, and explore your temporary home.
Make plans with friends for your days off. Google the top ten attractions and pick the ones that look the most interesting. Stop in a coffee shop and chat with the locals. You’re sure to make memories that will last a lifetime.
Elizabeth Shew is a Portland, OR native and a New York-based dancer, writer, and creator. She is a graduate of The Ailey School and Fordham University and holds BFAs in Dance and English/Creative Writing. She has danced for choreographers Cindy Salgado, Jae Man Joo, Brice Mousset, Christopher Huggins and Taryn Kaschock Russell, among others. Recently, she participated in Cherice and Charissa Barton’s summer program, Axis Connect, and performed alongside the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in their annual piece *Memoria. *She is a current apprentice with BodyStories: Teresa Fellion Dance.
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Broadway Dance Dreams