Dance has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. From my first ballet class with Miss Louise when I didn’t even have a real pair of ballet slippers, to my senior dance with The Dance Studio, to my college dance classes for my minor, I have spent the past 20 years in classes, competitions, and recitals. Because dance is something I don’t ever remember not doing, it is easy for me to take for granted everything my training has taught me both about art and about life. However, when I reflect on the experiences I’ve had, it’s clear that dance has benefitted me in countless ways that I am so grateful for. Here are just some of the things dance has taught me that will impact me for the rest of my life:
Dance has taught me that progress doesn’t come overnight, nor does it come to those who don’t try.
There were many frustrating nights trying to get turns and leaps with no success, and often I would leave class feeling frustrated or disappointed. However, when those moments came after weeks or months that I was finally able to get it right, I was beyond excited and proud of myself for not giving up.
Dance taught me that “can’t” is not a word that should be in my vocabulary.
Every time we said “can’t” in class, we had to do pushups. If the word “can’t” is removed from your vocabulary, it is removed from your mindset too. This has helped me countless times in school and college.
Dance has taught me that there’s nothing a few time steps can’t fix!
Dance is my form of self-care. After a long day I always look forward to going to a dance class. Knowing how to destress has been so important in my success and personal well being.
Dance has taught me how to focus entirely on one task in order to accomplish my goals.
Ballet barre was always one of my favorite parts of class because there was no room in my mind to think of anything besides body alignment and technique. As soon as I lose focus at the barre, I need to completely start over. This ability to focus has carried over to school and work as well.
Dance has taught me to take constructive criticism.
I used to feel upset or embarrassed when I got corrected in class until a dance teacher told me something that changed my life. She said that corrections are a compliment because that means your instructors are watching you and care about your improvement. She told us that she saw potential in us for improvement and wanted to help us reach that point. If she didn’t think we could improve, she wouldn’t take the time to correct us. I think that this concept has been one of the most defining factors in so many things I do, and I truly value my ability to take and use constructive criticism.
Dance has taught me to face my obstacles, not avoid them.
I remember a time that I always asked to go to the bathroom during pirouettes because they were hard for me and I didn’t like doing them, which was obviously not helping me to improve. Once I was old enough to realize the importance of practicing to improve, I started going front and center in the room, just waiting for my teacher to help me get better. Hiding from this obstacle was not helping me improve, but by facing it head-on a grew leaps and bounds in this part of class.
Dance has taught me that you won’t always be chosen for things, and that’s okay.
Rejection is a hard thing to learn, especially in a society where everyone is a winner. Unfortunately with dance that cannot be and is not the case. I’ve had to learn not to take it personally and know that I’m not always the best fit for something, and that’s okay. I’m glad I was able to learn this sooner rather than later.
Dance has taught me how to take care of my body and mind.
Without a healthy body and mind, one simply cannot dance. In order to keep my body ready to dance, I stretched everyday, ate (somewhat) healthy meals, and took time to practice on my own over the summers. I feel better when I do these things, so it is a habit I try to maintain even in my busy life.
Dance has taught me that it’s okay to make mistakes.
“If you’re going to make a mistake, make it big and make it proud!” I can’t tell you how many instructors have told me this, and it’s totally true! Mistakes are proof that we are trying, and they are how we learn.
Dance has taught me to feel the joy of performing on stage.
There is nothing quite like the adrenaline rush before a competition or opening night. Performing is my high, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Dance has taught me to be part of a team.
My commitment to dance does not only affect me, but my teammates as well. I love the bond that is formed when a group of dancers are brought together to work on a common goal. I know that I need to do my best not only for myself, but for everyone around me as well.
Dance has taught me that the purest sense of happiness and success doesn’t come from materials, money, or fame, but rather from doing what you love and sharing that love with others.Need I say more?