Growing up, dance was my entire life. My refrain in middle and high school was the quote, “I can’t, I have dance.” I continued dancing throughout college and grad school, and while dance doesn’t occupy quite as much of my time these days, I consider it to be a huge part of my personality because it was such a formative part of my life.
Since there are so many highly specific aspects to dance that aren’t found in other sports, I believe there are certain things you can only understand if you’ve spent the greater part of your free time in a leotard, tights, and bun. If you’re also a dancer, below are seven things that might sound familiar to you:
1. A sickled foot is the most horrific sight.
One of the greatest crimes you can commit in dance is sickling your foot (essentially, turning in your foot while your leg is turned out, which breaks the line). Any dancer can spy this instantly, and it’s a painful sight to see.
2. Other dancers are instantly recognizable.
It’s like a secret code. I can immediately spot another dancer on the street by the turned-out stance, perfect posture, or elegant movements. I can similarly recognize actors and models who are former dancers—as soon as I see a nice turn out in a movie or photoshoot, I immediately turn to google to check if they were, in fact, a dancer (which most of the time, they were).
3. Snap, crackle, pop.
Every part of my body cracks. And I mean EVERY part, from my neck all the way to my feet and every tiny bone and ligament in between that I didn’t even know existed. This comes from years of contorting our bodies into unnatural positions. Ask any dancer—the first plié in a ballet class is a chorus of snap crackle pops across the classroom.
4. Our feet give us away.
Every time I get a pedicure, I get asked if I’m a dancer. My ankles are always stretched, and my feet are constantly pointed out of habit. What else will give it away? Most dancers’ feet are also pretty beat up after years of wearing pointe shoes that are practically torture devices.
5. Bobby pins are our best friend.
I used hundreds of bobby pins to secure my bun for classes and performances, finding pins lost in my hair for days later. Now, bobby pins are still my savior for stray hairs and for pinning back my bangs when they’re driving me crazy, and I constantly find them all over my apartment—on countertops, tables, and in every purse I own. If you’re looking for a dancer, follow the trail of bobby pins like the breadcrumbs in Hansel and Gretel.
6. We prefer workouts that are dance-adjacent.
Zumba, pilates, yoga, or, best yet, barre. Anything that flexes our dance skills. Just don’t ever ask me to run.