As soon as the curtain goes down after the final show of the season, we’re all breathing a sigh of relief. It’s over. It’s finally time for a little rest. However, as nice as it is to let our bodies recover and relax for a bit, three months off can feel too long! After about two weeks of doing what I call “normal people things”, I’m itching to get back into the studio. Every summer since I’ve been old enough and interested, I’ve attended a summer intensive to stay in shape, learn from new teachers and experience something different from my normal every day during the year. But this summer was different. After experiencing an injury at the end of last season, I was interested in spending the summer learning new ways to keep my body in the shape it needed to be in for an easy return to dancing full time. I worked with a personal trainer, who taught me how to properly work my body in ways I hadn’t ever before. It’s given me a new mindset and a motivation to get back into the swing of things. Throughout the years, I’ve learned how important it is, as a dancer, to make time to cross train—yoga, pilates and sometimes swimming are ways I enjoy working my muscles in different ways. During my time home, I also really enjoyed getting to spend some time with my family, do some travelling and just do typical summer things. I haven’t been able to spend a Fourth of July with my family in years, as well as be home for my dad and youngest brother’s birthdays, so it was fun to be able to celebrate with family and friends. While I wanted to give my body a break from dancing, I did teach some classes around my home town of Fayetteville, Arkansas. There’s always something special about being able to return to the ballet school you grew up at and share your experiences with the eager, young dancers. But I feel like no matter how much I try to keep myself in shape during the summer, I almost always feel like I’ve been hit by a truck after that first day back. Ice buckets and Epsom salt become my best friends during those first couple weeks. I’ll turn on my favorite tv show and stick my feet into a giant bucket of ice for as long as I can--usually I can only handle about 5 to 8 minutes at a time! Then I like to take a hot Epsom salt bath and try to get my muscles to relax before I grab my foam roller and roll out the tension and muscle knots. Even though we’re sore and tired those first couple of weeks into the new season, there’s always that feeling of renewed energy; that sense of excitement as we begin to prepare something new to share. I’m so excited to be returning for my second season with Ballet Arkansas and I can’t wait for our audience to see what we’ve got in store for our 2017/18 season!