Happy International Dance Day!!
Growing up, dance really defined who I was. Now that I’m *shudders* an adult, I’ve realized how much of my personality and who I am was shaped by my background in dance. When my parents were paying for costumes and classes, they were really paying for so much more and I’m so grateful to them for letting me grow up in the studio and on stage.
First off, can we talk about how there really isn’t an “off season” for dancers? Let me break it down for you. We’ve got the beginning of the season, which is in the fall. Here you’ll learn combinations and really train your booty off. Then we merge into winter/early spring – competition season. After competition season it’s late spring/ early summer which is show season. And then we get to actual summer. Now here’s where you get the time off right?? Wrong. Welcome to summer classes and conditioning, which you need to make the competition team and start the whole cycle over again. The amount of dedication that goes into being a dancer is off the charts. However, this is one of those fundamental things that will always stay with me. I’ve learned that working your butt off for what you want is 100% worth it.
You’ve got to be a team player in dance. To make a dance “good”, you need it to be cohesive. All of the dancers on that stage need to move as one. You don’t get this if everyone is making the dance their own solo. Sometimes, you’re gonna work with people you really don’t want to. But guess what – that’s life. The people you’re working with want the same thing you do – to create a beautiful dance and to win. Not only that, but chances are that you might have some complicated partner work or tricks and trusting your team is key. Team work really does make the dream work.
My senior year of high school I juggled an internship, a job babysitting after school, extracurricular clubs, teaching and assisting at my studio, dance classes, and keeping good grades. Needless to say, dance instills time management. It might be where I found my love for planners and agendas quite frankly. Now that I’m in college, I know that time management is a necessity in the “real world,” and I’m so glad that I learned it before I graduated high school. I can’t imagine not having this skill in college if I’m being honest.
Performing Under Pressure
I’m already fairly outgoing, therefore I have basically zero fear of public speaking. I don’t get nervous during presentations in class, and I can confidently say that dance played a huge part in that. Getting up on stage and dancing in front of strangers is a very intimate expression I’ve realized, and if I can do that I really don’t have a reason to be nervous for a classroom presentation. Having the pressure of doing well for your coaches, teammates, and family has really made me understand a thing or two about performing under pressure.
“Fake It Till You Make It”
Maybe one of the most important lessons dance has taught me throughout the years is how to fake it till you make it. Before we would audition for various dances or productions, our coaches would always remind us to smile and act like we knew exactly what we were doing – even if we were completely lost. Now that I’m applying for internships and jobs, this mentality is so important. If you look confident and act confident people won’t question you. Smile, hold your head high, and get ready to work hard.
Dance gave me some of the best years of my life. To all my dance family – you guys are amazing and I love you all so much. Thank you for supporting me on and off the stage. And to my parents who never stopped believing in me – you are the real MVP’s. I wouldn’t be half the woman I am today if it wasn’t for your love and support. Because while you paid for dance classes and competition fees, you were paying for all of these life skills and for so much more.