Being a dancer requires a ridiculous amount of dedication. You have to be at every class and practice if you want to improve your skills. There’s no way you could just go out in your driveway and practice those barre combinations you learned in ballet class yesterday, and you really can’t practice your tap solo in the grass in front of your house or on your kitchen floor (this in particular tends to make the ‘rents angry). It’s just one of those activities that you need the right environment to execute. On top of this, there isn’t really any “off season” for a dancer either. You pretty much dance 12 months a year, seven days a week. You need to be completely devoted to making that time commitment.
I’m 100% convinced that if you haven’t taken a pointe class in your life, you don’t know the real meaning of perseverance. Imagine standing on a block of wood on your tiptoes for an hour while simultaneously trying to remember difficult choreography and incorporating basic dance technique. Ouch, right? Oh and if you complain, nobody (especially your teacher) is going to care. This is where I learned that you have to suck it up and just keep going. There are going to be times where all you want to do is quit because things are really tough. In these instances, you have to remind yourself to keep going because the end result will be worth the strife.
3. Positive self-image
When you go to a competition, there’s always going to be someone who’s better than you, older than you, skinnier than you, prettier than you, and more experienced than you. You have to learn to accept who you are as a dancer and learn that where you’re at is okay because in the end, you’re doing the best you can do. This took me a while to figure out. I started dancing when I was seven, while most girls started when they were two or three. I’ve always had less experience than most. It took me some time realize that you’re not always going to be the best, but as long as you learn to love who you are, you will live a happy and prosperous life.
If you’ve ever seen a dance movie before, I’m sure you’ve seen the cliché ballet class scene with the strict teacher enforces crazy rules and a harsh dress code. The students seem to be collectively passive and following the commands of the teacher, while all doing the same movements in sync. Well I’m here to tell you that this is really not too far off from your everyday dance class. At most studios, you’re required to dress a certain way and follow a certain set of rules. This may seem somewhat ridiculous for an extracurricular activity, but in the end it teaches a dance student how to apply discipline to all other aspects of their life.
5. Team Work
I was a competitive dancer for more than seven years of my life. I’ve also participated in many types group dances where you’re required to work with a large group of other dancers. It’s not just about you in this type of dance, it’s about everyone working together to become one. Your group isn’t going to do well at a competition unless everyone contributes the same amount of effort as everyone else. Thinking about others instead of just yourself is huge lesson that is important to learn in life.
As modern dance legend Martha Graham once said, “Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are great because of their passion.” Dance has taught me what it truly means to love what you do. Having a passion for something gives you the motivation to keep at it and push on even when things get tough.
Dance has never been just a sport for me (yes, it is a sport). It always has and always will be a part of my heart and soul. I believe that everyone should channel their inner Martha Graham everyday. Who cares if you might not be the best at something? Do what you do because you love it and it makes you who you are. Who knows, you may end up learning a lot about life along the way.