To all of the little girls dancing around in tutus and tap shoes with the biggest sparkle in their eyes, enjoy every moment. You have a big life ahead of you that may or may not always include dance. No matter where your journey takes you, dance will give you more than just a Grande Jeté, Maxie Ford Turn, or Jazz Square. Here is a little advice from someone who has been in your shiny tap shoes many years ago.
Be grateful that you have learned to get changed in less than a minute.
Competition schedule says your ballet production is one routine after your jazz routine, no problem! The pure art of being able to change your costume, make up, and/or hair in a minute is a talent. Throughout your life, I cannot tell you how many times that will come in handy. All of your friends will think you're some kind of wizard for being able to change so fast under pressure.
Cherish the moments of your mom pulling out your hair and poking your eyeballs.
One too many times your mom will accidentally poke your eye while putting on stage makeup or will put one too many bobby pins in your hair. No matter who your “dance mom” is, always remember that they have to put up with your sassy competition day attitude. Like my dance teacher would always say, always respect your mom. In those moments it is very easy to get mad and frustrated but when you’re all grown up and have to do your own makeup every day, you will miss the way your mom used to do it. Helping you with your competition day makeup will turn into helping you with your senior prom makeup, to helping you with your wedding day makeup.
Appreciate your dance teachers.
Other than your parents, your dance teachers are the only ones that will see you through all of your life stages. You will grow up in the dance studio. You will go from looking up to the “big girls” to actually being one of the “big girls.” Through the years of crying because you have to leave your mom to go into class, to the awkward middle school years, to you graduating from high school, your dance teacher will see it all. They watch you grow and give you life lessons that you do not even realize you are being taught.
Thank your dad for paying for your dance tuition or being a “stage crew dad” or doing the “Daddy-Daughter Dance” at recital with you
Your poor dad probably gets the shortest end of the stick in the dance world. No man has sitting at a dance competition all weekend long at the top of their to-do list. I am pretty sure having to carry costume and makeup bags to and from the car parked miles away is not the cherry on top either. However, they will be your biggest supporter and the most eager to help carry that ridiculous prop on stage for you to dance around at competition. And every year they look forward to sharing the stage with you to do the “Daddy-Daughter Dance” because they know that one day a dance just like that will be shared on your wedding day.
Have sympathy for your siblings that get dragged to all of your rehearsals and competitions.
Far too many dance waiting rooms are filled with little matchbox cars for all the brothers out there waiting for their sisters in ballet class. Many siblings spend far too many hours in a dance studio even though they are Little League football, soccer, or baseball players. Whenever you can go to their sports or other activities that are important to them, make sure you go. Give back to even things out.
Don’t complain that you don’t have free time.
Dance teaches you how to balance school and other extra curricular activities very well. There is probably a very good chance you have done your homework in the car on the way to dance class. Being able to understand the importance of using every minute wisely is very hard for most people to understand. Time is always of the essence, so master the management of it now before you get to college where it is even more important.
Value the many life lessons that dance has taught you because one day dance might not be there anymore.
There will come a time in your life where you will choose to continue to dance or close that chapter and move onto something else. I was one that stopped dancing after 14 years to pursue something else that I loved, but dance will always have a special place in my heart. I thank my years as a dancer for many reasons. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I was never plopped on a stage and told to dance like no one was watching. Just remember, once a dancer, always a dancer.