Written By Annika Rudolph —
I’ve never been a morning person, but on my first day of AMDA, I was up before my alarm. The logical side of my brain understood that pursuing a BFA wouldn’t be easy, but the city’s energy made me starry-eyed.
Understandably, these daydreams didn’t include a pandemic interrupting my training.
When the world shut down, I was a third semester learning how to waltz and sing duets. Within a couple of hours, the AMDA community had to move six-feet-apart.
When I moved back in with my parents, online school distracted me from the burning
world. My dad helped me convert the basement into a makeshift studio and although I wasn’t on-
campus, I tried my best to honor the rigorous conservatory schedule.
By graduation, I was taking a daily online ballet class, drilling my book, and submitting to
as many virtual open calls as I could. My mantra active steps was born; when disappointment
came my way, I made an effort to pick a simple task that would move my career forward.
Like dwindling smoke after a bonfire, once I moved back to the city, the distraction I had
formed began to drift away. I have never been a fan of labels like “dancer first” or “singer first”,
but I am someone who should be submitting to dance calls. The expense of Manhattan studio
space aside, I no longer had the motivation to spend another hour staring at my computer screen,
attempting to learn a combination that an associate filmed in their kitchen.
WebMD defines burnout as “a form of exhaustion caused by constantly feeling swamped.”
Not only was I experiencing burnout, but a part of me grieved the loss of my daydream. I
couldn’t stand listening to jaded performers complain about waiting in line at Pearl because it
was something I never had the chance to experience.
100% of my surveyed Instagram followers have experienced symptoms of burnout.
Burnout tends to affect me in waves, but holding on to my active steps has been a cornerstone.
Next time you feel swamped, I encourage you to take your own active steps, which can include:
1. Take a class.
Whether it’s a drop in dance class or a longer series, in my experience, nothing tops the
2. Add audition notices to your web browser’s reading list.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by breakdown platforms, especially on a business day during
an audition season. Try saving a breakdown that interests you to your reading list or bookmarks
folder; this helps weed through the swampiness and organize what deadlines you need to be
3. Watch something incredible.
Sometimes I forget that I live in the theatre capital of the world. If you don’t live in New
York City, find another way to access a performance that inspires you.
4. Spend time outside of theatre with your community.
I’m an advocate for a work/life balance, but am also terrible at following my own advice.
Sometimes, a lunch date with a friend, trip to a museum, or a beach day is as productive as
running the same 16-bar cut for two hours.