For 15 years of my life, I was a trained studio dancer. I did various performances, competitions, recitals, and showcases. In college I still dance when I can (it’s so hard to schedule dance classes with my major classes, because they’re both held at the same time), pursuing a minor in dance. I plan to use that to specialize in dance medicine and become a Physical Therapist for a professional dance company. Although dance led me to my future (offstage) profession, dance also taught me a lot of lessons that I apply to my daily life now. I’ve decided to share them, and these are for anyone that has danced or has never danced a day in their life. I hope you can take away something with these important lessons that I have learned through dance.
Do things you love because you love it, not for money.
For those of you that know, professional dancers do not make a lot of money, but they don’t dance for the money, they dance because they love it. This is the same for people in the real world. For example, I didn’t choose to go into Physical Therapy for money, I did it because I loved it and wanted to make an impact on others. So if you’re sitting indecisive because you don’t know what to do with your life, I hope you choose the thing that you love; you won’t regret it.
Kissing ass will not get you anywhere.
We all know that ONE person who is the teachers pet, and it’s ANNOYING. It makes me feel sorry that dance teachers have to deal with people like these only because they want special parts in dances. Don’t kiss ass, it makes you seem desperate, and your boss surely will not like that. Grind on your own and stop being desperate.
Work on yourself to better yourself, not for anyone else.
In dance, there’s always going to be someone better than you, and the same goes for the real world. With that being said, the only person that matters is you, Think about yourself and work harder for yourself. Maybe you’ll become better than that other person. You’ll feel much more accomplishes that you went through hard work for yourself.
Nobody is entitled to anything in this world.
Ahhh my favorite one. It AMAZES me how many people I have seen in the dance world (and in college) who think that they’re entitled to everything in this world. News flash: YOU’RE NOT. Again grind on your own and actually WORK for your things in life instead of having people hand successes to you and get upset when you don’t get what you want.
Even the best dancers in the world get rejected from auditions for companies. This happens in the real world too; you could get rejected by a boy, or from a job, or an organization, but guess what, your world is still turning. Just because you got rejected one time, doesn’t mean you won’t find something else. Who knows it could even come back to you, you just have to keep your head up and seek more opportunity and positive thoughts. Rejection is not failure.
It’s okay to get out of a toxic environment.
During my last year of competitive dance, my studio was so toxic at the time, that I was not happy. I was so unhappy that I thought I lost my love for dance, but that wasn’t the case. The point is, if you are in a toxic environment of ANY source, it is okay for you to leave that environment. Your happiness is more important than anyone else’s, and it’s important to do things that are good for your mental health.
Be supportive of your friends.
As a dancer, I had to learn how to be proud of myself, but also proud of my friends successes too. You never know what someone is going through, so the important thing is to support them and be proud of them. In dance, everyone works so hard to achieve certain goals, and it’s important to be supportive so you work as a team.
Being a cocky dancer (or cocky person in general) is ANNOYING. There’s a difference between confident and cocky, so learn the difference. The more humble you are, the happier you will be with different opportunities that come your way. If you’re cocky, you’ll be upset that you didn’t get what you want. So in the end, I hope you stay humble.
Don’t be afraid to do something that’s out of your comfort zone.
At age 17, I won a scholarship to attend a dance intensive through a professional company in Chicago. The first day, I felt like I didn’t belong; I was uncomfortable. The next day, I decided to tell myself “just go out there and have fun” and I did. The point is, going out of your comfort zone provides growth, and it helps you find yourself and learn things about yourself that you didn’t even know about. Trying new things is amazing, and you’ll feel so much better that you went out of your comfort zone.
Most importantly, always say “Thank you”.
When I started taking dance more seriously at age 10, that’s when I was taught to say “Thank you” after any dance class. It’s common courtesy to say “Thank you” to anyone and in any situation, so just do it. It will brighten someones day.
Dance has been (and still is) a huge part of my life. I will forever be grateful that dance has brought me so many lessons that I can use to apply in my daily life, and I’m grateful that I keep growing as well. To all my dance teachers and dance educators that may be reading this, thank you for everything. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with me throughout my years as a dancer, and for inspiring me to still have a job in the dance world, even if it means I am offstage.