A Day in the Life of a Modern Dancer: What does an RDT dancer’s schedule look like?
By Jaclyn Brown
My daily schedule is something I get asked about in almost every Q&A I have ever been a part of. I suppose people are just intrigued by the idea of dancing as a career, and wonder what we do all day! Most think that we spend the majority of our time teaching, when in reality we are constantly rehearsing and preparing ourselves physically for upcoming performances. To give you an idea, here is a glimpse into the daily life of an RDT dancer:
6:30am– I have learned that our days are hard enough that if I don’t get my cross training in during the morning, I won’t have enough steam left after work to get it done. So, I usually wake up a little earlier to run on my treadmill for about 30 minutes. Then I quickly get ready for the day and leave my house by 8am for the morning commute to work from outside Salt Lake City.
8:40am– Most of the dancers have arrived at the studio by now and we start preparing for the day. For me this includes rolling out, hip opening/strength exercises, breathing/meditation, reviewing material we will rehearse later in the day, etc.
9:00-10:30am– Company class. This is essential to prepare us for a full day of rehearsing. Each company member usually teaches one week per year. The rest of the time the teachers range from our rehearsal directors to guest choreographers and local university professors. Ideally we have two days of ballet class and 3 days of modern class, for a total of 5 rehearsal days per week (Monday-Friday).
10:30-10:45am– We have a 15-minute break. This is usually only enough time to run to the restroom, grab a quick snack, hydrate, and cool down the body/stretch.
10:45am-1pm– Rehearse! We aim to schedule our most difficult tasks during this time frame. The reason for this is that it can be difficult to learn new choreography or dance full-out during the last half of the day when your brain and body can become foggy. This is the time to run dances for stamina, learn new choreography, and the like.
1-2pm- Lunch break. Some of us pack lunch, some of us eat out, some of us go home to eat and let out pets! The weeks closer to our performances become very intense during the last half of the day, so it’s important to eat wisely at this time … enough to fuel our bodies accordingly.
2-4pm– Final stretch of rehearsing. We cover whatever else is a priority at the time. Often we are preparing several different shows at the same time. For example, right now we are prepping our home season concert while also getting up our touring show and other one-time performances. The touring show is full of dances that we have previously performed and just need to revisit and polish up. The home show is usually full of dances that will premiere and aren’t necessarily ingrained in our bodies yet.
4pm– Done for the day! Many go to their other jobs like teaching at dance studios or working in a restaurant. Personally, I don’t have a second job, so I get to go home and recuperate for the next day! This includes things like walking my dog, cleaning, cooking a healthy dinner, and other “normal” people things.
I love our schedule at RDT. To me it is perfectly balanced, and we always seem to pull off what we need to within the 9-4 timeframe. Other companies rehearse for longer or on weekends. Although certain situations arise in which that is true for us, I prefer our schedule because it leaves time to have a regular life as well. The daily grind can become overwhelming when you only have one or two days off to play catch up. This is especially true when we are deep into our busy season. But it is always worth it when we step out on that stage prepared because of our consistency in the months beforehand! After fifty years of this schedule, I believe that RDT has worked out all the kinks!
Jaclyn Brown is currently in her third season with Repertory Dance Theatre, and greatly enjoys sharing her love of the art form through performing on stages of every kind in every place possible.