Dancer’s Burnout – Take a look within you

Skipping classes or rehearsals? Lacking motivation to dance? Getting irritated by your instructors? Perhaps your teachers aren’t appreciating what you’ve achieved. Or maybe you’re just overworked and tired.

Yup. That sounds like burnout for sure. And there’s only one thing to say – it totally sucks.

Burnout can be described in many ways but there are two key ones:

“A state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by long term involvement in emotionally demanding situations.” – Ayala Pines and Elliot Aronson

“A state of fatigue or frustration brought about by devotion to a cause, way of life, or relationship that failed to produce the expected reward.” – Herbert J. Freudenberger

See the difference? In the first definition, you’re working yourself so hard that your mind and body start to give up on you. That’s not easy but at least you know there’s one simple solution – Stop working so hard!

The second definition, however, is more serious because it indicates that you’re not receiving the expected reward that you wished for when you began dancing. This doesn’t mean that you need to fully quit dance, but it might indicate that it’s time for change. Perhaps, a pivot is required with your approach – or your instructor’s – toward your dance classes and training.

Burnout is not uncommon for students who are exhausted from their day jobs or have extensive family responsibilities. But in the case that you don’t fall into either of these categories, you need to address this new apathy.

If you’re an advanced student, maybe you’re tired from trying to reconcile your dreams of a career with the demands of the workforce alongside the reality of post-recession living expenses. It could be that an injury has you sidelined.

Look at these two different types of burnouts and track your score until the end.


De-Energized Burnout

Dissatisfied Burnout


Because you’re pushing yourself too hard

About where you expected to be when you started dancing


About my expected ability level

Because of my instructor’s expectations

Missing classes/practices…

Because I’m tired

Because I don’t feel like they are helping me

A strong sense of…



Symptoms are…

Mostly physical

Mostly mental/emotional

Recently took on a larger-than-normal workload? (Can be non-dance related)



Finding class/rehearsal boring or uninteresting?



Feel like your accomplishments aren’t being recognized?






My enjoyment of dance is



When it comes to my practice regime, you…

Expect too much from yourself

Feel others expect too much or too little from you

I want to take a break and try some other dance styles



There is some overlap between the two types of burnouts, and one can often result in the other. Choose the responses that fit best and add up the scores from each to find out the type of burnout you are experiencing.

Have an honest conversation with yourself when answering the above questions. The truth is many of us cover burnout symptoms with self-rationalizing arguments – “I’ll feel better once I finish this.”

So, you’ve calculated your score and thinking what now? Well, if you’re experiencing de-energizing burnout, it may be worth scaling back your schedule to include just one class a week or taking a short break from dancing to give yourself time to relax. Enjoy some Bollywood movies, read some books or explore YouTube for interesting performance footage. Soon you’ll be on your way to remembering why you love dance so much to begin with!

If you’re feeling dissatisfied with your dancing, take some time to evaluate why you might be feeling this way. Did you forget your original dance goals? Is your teacher pushing you in a different direction? Maybe have a real conversation with your instructor and let them know how you’re feeling. It might be hard to do it at first, but it’s your best bet at making changes. We all need dance to express ourselves!

As I said earlier, burnout totally sucks. But it’s something you can recover from. Be honest with yourself and spend the time figuring out what your mind and body need to heal from dancer burnout.