8 Completely Useful Skills I Learned From Being A Competitive Dancer
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8 Completely Useful Skills I Learned From Being A Competitive Dancer

And no, one of them is not successfully removing glitter from my person.

8 Completely Useful Skills I Learned From Being A Competitive Dancer
Anna Tripolitis

I began participating in dance competitions when I was nine years old and continued to compete until I was 18. When reminiscing about dance competitions, many point out that the experience helped them learn dedication, passion, responsibility, teamwork and friendship. I, however, like to think about all the skills that I use in my everyday life that I would not have developed if I didn’t dance competitively for almost 10 years.

1. How to change clothes in under 5 minutes.

Quick changes were the villains of dance competitions. There was nothing worse than having to not only changing costumes but also change tights and hairstyles in under 5 minutes. However, constantly having to change impossibly fast almost every competition for 10 years does have an upside. Now, when my friend calls and asks me if I’m on my way to their house, I can hop out of bed and make myself look presentable all while telling my friend you left the house 10 minutes ago but got stuck in traffic.

2. How to cry without making a scene and ruining my makeup.

If you say you've never seen anyone cry at a dance competition, then you're totally bluffing. There are over a million reasons to cry at a competition; your mom shoved a bobby pin straight into your skull that probably left a permanent dent, you get really upset about that triple turn you messed up in the back corner where literally no one could see you, you snagged a hole in your tights as you're walking backstage, or it's 10:30 p.m. and awards haven't started yet and your mom promised to take you to Stake 'N Shake. If it were possible, I probably would have just cried for a weekend straight. But this was the dance competition world, so you have to learn to cry internally.

After many years of practice, I finally mastered the art of letting the smallest tear well up in your eye and you engage your abdominal muscles to keep all whimpering silent, and blotting away the small puddle in your eye when no one is looking. I still use this skill 5 years later. When I'm taking a stats exam, when I lived in the library for about 6 hours and it closed and I still didn't get my presentation finished, and when I see cute puppies in public. So next time you want to cry and make a scene, channel your inner competition girl so that while your friend over there is ugly crying about the series finale of "Parks and Recreation," making a mess of herself, you are comforted by the fact that your intense sorrow about that show's ending isn't currently a community experience.

3. How to nap literally anywhere.

During competition season, I often got to spend an entire weekend at a convention center in the middle of nowhere 30 minutes away from home. I also often had a large gap between my last routine and the awards ceremony, so I began to use my extra pairs of tights as a pillow and take a peaceful nap in the middle of the cramped, chaotic dressing room. Because of this, I can now take a nap in my college’s commons, using my coat as a pillow, while ignoring the fact that I’m surrounded by 20 people who are basically strangers or in the middle of the park after a picnic that resulted in a gnarly food coma.

4. How to eat almost anything without spilling food on myself.

At some point during a competition, dancers get so hungry they start to lash out, signaling to their parents that food is needed, causing moms to sprint to the concession stand and bring back the messiest item on the menu. When this happened, I was somehow always wearing the lightest colored and most delicate costume I owned. With only 10 minutes until I had to be on stage, I had no choice but rely on the art of stretching out my neck further than humanly possible in order to regain sanity and avoid the risk of nacho cheese jumping ship and landing on my lap. Years later, I can now eat at Buffalo Wild Wings without having to tuck a napkin in my shirt, leaving my friends, who has stains on almost everything they own, in complete awe.

5. How to sit on the floor without my legs or feet falling asleep.

Although awards were arguably the best part of the day, they often felt like they took five years to get through, causing my legs and feet to fall asleep at least four times. I then learned the importance of switching my sitting position often, so that when I stood up to accept an award, I didn’t look like some sort of baby animal learning how to walk. Five years later, this skill has remained incredibly useful. Not only has it allowed me to make it through countless movie viewings and game nights where floor seating is required, but it also prepared me for the moment I had to run from a swarm of bees after sitting under a tree, reading a textbook for two hours.

6. How to fall and pretend it didn’t happen.

I probably fell on stage at least once a competition season in addition to the numerous times my body seemed to be magnetically attracted to the floor in rehearsal, forcing me to learn how to get up immediately and continue as if it never happened. This is probably the skill I’ve used the most in my post-competition life. When I fall down the stairs of my lecture hall in front of classmates, I feel more than prepared. I just stand up, flash the largest, most ridiculous smile I can, and continue about my business. Everyone is so impressed with my grace and coordination that they definitely forget the fact that I fall almost every class period.

7. How to make any outfit look great.

Dance competitions are honestly a parade of the weirdest and often ugliest costumes you can find in a costume catalog. I can think of at least six costumes from my past that were painfully unflattering and hideous, but I somehow made them work, leading to a Best Costume award at multiple competitions. The skill really comes in handy when it’s laundry day and it looks like I picked out my outfit with my eyes shut because nothing matches. It was also incredibly helpful when I had to find a dress last minute for my sorority initiation. Whoever made the dress didn’t even try to make it look cute, but I managed to convince everyone that my Dress Barn exclusive was a Nordstrom original.

8. How to act excited even when I'm not.

It happens to everyone, you thought you completely nailed a routine and you received a gold instead of a platinum. This happened to me frequently. No matter how much I wanted to cry, I utilized your controlled crying skills mentioned above and flashed a giant smile faker than The Hills while accepting my award. This particular skill truly has a wide variety of real-world application, including but not limited to, getting an ugly sweater from grandma at Christmas time, pretending to appreciate someone bringing you food that you’re actually allergic to, acting surprised and thankful when a friend throws a surprise party even though you tell them at least once a week that you hate surprises, and acting incredibly excited and not at all disappointed when you get an internship and find out it’s unpaid.

Although competitive dancing required long hours at the studio, numerous injuries, exhaustion, and missing out on a lot of social events; it was honestly all worth it because I gained an amazing set of completely practical skills that most people wished they had. So next time you feel like you missed out on the typical high school experience, just remind yourself that all your hard work gave you the ability to eat wings without a bib.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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