Like many young girls, I was dropped off at a studio with ballet slippers and a tutu week after week, either for me to pick up a hobby or give my parents a break from my hyperactive self. I never had any talent, but I really enjoyed my dance classes and performances. While I do not see myself dancing in the future, unless liquid luck is involved, dance did teach me lessons that I can implement in my life.
1. You have to pull your own weight
In a dance performance, I could only control what I did. It was my job to make sure that I knew the routine and spacing – if I looked sloppy, I made the group look sloppy. Vice versa, people in my routine had to do their part, and I had to trust that they would do it. The same can be said about projects, whether in school or at work. I can only control what I do, and as much as sometimes I would like to make sure others put in as much work as me, I cannot control that.
2. Tardiness will not do you any favors
Many instructors had a rule that if you missed warm up, you had to watch the class. This was not solely a reprimand – stretching is important for preventing injuries. This, and my parents, have very much instilled the importance of being on time. I have found this beneficial in the present in terms of making a good impression for potential employers and professors.
3. It is okay to take a step back
As much as I would like to say I was fully dedicated to dance, this was not the case. I danced from three to 12 but then decided to quit because I felt extremely occupied by soccer and technical theater. Before my junior year, I realized how much I regretted that decision, and I picked up jazz classes for my last two years of high school. The same can be done for any hobby – taking a break is a good way to realize how much you like something.
4. Practice makes perfect
I would like to think the few perfect “chasse-step-leap” I did in dance classes were what I would be judged on, but, in reality, the only one that mattered was the one I had to do in recitals. However, the practice and preparation I had to do up to these recitals were very important for the actual performance. For presentations, I have to practice again and again until I get it right. Similarly, I won’t be graded on my perfect diction that I did in front of a mirror, solely on the actual presentation.
5. Self-care is vital
During my last two years of dance, I struggled with plantar fasciitis, which is inflammation in my feet. I learned in order to be a strong performer, I had to take care of my feet through measures like physical therapy, icing my feet, and stretching my feet on a regular basis. I am currently trying to navigate an autoimmune disorder, and I find myself having to face that I must take care of myself, like I did with my feet, in order to be a strong, successful woman.