I cannot even think of the number of Odyssey articles that I have seen about being a dancer in the past and how it is now, but I would like to put a more personal spin on the common article. I want to really delve into why I spent over 10 years doing something even though it sort of made being young difficult sometimes.
Everyone similar stories for how they began taking dance classes, but mine is a little unique. I was not the three-year-old thrown into a pink leotard and tutu for an hour a week. Instead, I was the little girl trying to play every sport. As it turns out, I was too slow to be extremely good at any sport. One day around age five I went to a friend's dance recital and right then and there I knew. That was going to be my thing, and so it was. Dancing was not work for me, nor was it something that I ever really dreaded (except maybe two-hour ballet/pointe classes). Dancers are often labeled as the type of people that talk waaay too much about one thing, and I know we are guilty of it. I mean I have been out of studio dancing around four years, and I am told I talk about dancing all the time. To be honest I do not even realize it; I believe it's because dance has this weird effect on you that never really ever leaves you.
Looking back has made me try to figure out why I stayed with it for so long. Dance is hard. It requires discipline and constant practice. I was often at dance for at least seven hours a week on top of school and homework. There is something rewarding and magnetic about it, though, and it is hard to stop once you really get into it. Here are the three main reasons I stayed for so long and how dance changed my life.
1. It is an emotion and stress outlet.
Unfortunately, I was blessed with an overthinking and anxious mind. Dance was an important part of easing my mind. I would take every sliver of choreography and make sure that every time I did it I did it with purpose and feeling. I have found that since quitting dance I have a hard time holding back my anxieties from completely taking over from time to time. I never had that problem when I could let it all out in my own special way through dance, and it has been really difficult replacing this outlet.
2. It is an art (I think?).
Dancing is unique because it straddles the line between athletics and arts. That fact alone would commonly make me unable to identify with the "ball is life" type because dance gave me something they did not quite understand. Dance is great for teaching lessons learned in sports such as perseverance and teamwork, but it also provided me with a deeper understanding of humanity which I felt my friends playing sports did not get. And I am by no means bashing sports, at all. I am such a sports fan and have been on many sports teams, and because of that, I know dance is that much more unique. It requires athletic ability while also requiring artistic storytelling, empathy, and the ability to move someone to feel something.
3. It gives you a community...and a family.
I have had many great friends from many different places, but the friends that I had during the time I was dancing were the friends that did the most at shaping my personality, for they were there from elementary school, through awkward middle school, and all the way to high school. They were there through it all without having to be experiencing school with you. In addition to having your dance fam; when you meet or come across a dancer somewhere else you immediately have a connection to them. There is lingo you have that others don't. They understand how you feel about dance. They can just easily get you. The community of dancers covers the globe. This one simple thing such as movement strung together to match music and the emotions to go with it ties all of us dancers together. Forever.