5 Things I’ve Learned From Being A Dancer
Dancing has long since been part of my life, ever since my mother signed me up for my first ballet lesson before I even turned five. I remember crying and refusing to go to classes cause they were so tough. But over the years, I have found myself falling in love with the art. Before I knew it, I had spent almost two decades dancing. This art form is both exquisite and painful because to be able to speak the language of dance with no words requires hours and hours of training. At the same time, I’ve yet to find another art form that allows me to express my emotions in movement.
Perhaps it would be surprising, however, to find that I’ve learned far more than kicks and splits over the years I’ve spent practically living in a dance studio. I’ve found myself applying these lessons everywhere. Here are a few of the memorable ones:
1. Precision is key.
As a dancer, you do not do sloppy work. No dance teacher accepts anything less than the best, especially when you are meant to put on a performance out there. In the spotlight with your other dance partners, you cannot afford to make a mistake. So, we practice not just to get it right, but so that we can never get it wrong. At the same time, it also reminds us to practice, practice, practice, and practice again, because some extra practice would never hurt!
2. Whatever will be, will be.
Despite all the practice you’ve done, it doesn’t change the fact that dance is by and large a live performing art. If things go wrong, they just go wrong. Someone gets too tired, costumes malfunction, the stage sound equipment plays the wrong song at the wrong cue, someone forgets choreography or misses an entrance… The possibilities are endless.
At the end of the day, no matter how many precautions are taken (and you should take them even if things might go wrong!), we’ve also got to learn to be okay if things do go wrong. We learn to let go of some mistakes that occur on the day of the performance. A dancer trains to prevent mistakes, but we also train to handle any mistakes that happen with unshakeable grace and confidence. We often say, “Just keep smiling, because the audience doesn’t know that wasn’t part of the act.”
3. Teamwork makes the dream work.
Every action or decision you make will inevitably affect someone else. This is even more obvious on a stage you share with many others. One wrong step, one wrong move, and countless others would have to rethink and redo their own choreography. It is the same when it comes to practice times as well. I can’t tell you what a herculean effort it is trying to coordinate practice times with ten other people! At the end of the day, everyone has to give a little on their end to make the performance work. And it goes without saying that everyone has to play a part to pull off the final show.
4. Determination and acceptance.
No one was born immediately knowing how to kick, do choreography or be naturally graceful. Everyone gets somewhere by practising. If you can’t get it on the first time, you try, try and try again. Dance teaches me that there is no shame in trying and if need be, to get help from other’s and learn from corrections. Many people find corrections from others shameful, perhaps because it shows they aren’t doing it good enough. But when you dance, even with a mirror, you can’t always be looking at yourself. You need a third person’s point of view to know if you’re doing something right. I learned to ask for help, ask for feedback, and seek guidance to improve!
5. Love your body.
Watching that same body get battered after hours and hours of practice, the feeling of muscle soreness… The feeling of your body being stretched to its limit, only to rest for a day before going back to the studio just to be stretched for another day… As a dancer, our body is our instrument. So, I’ve learned to listen to it and to love it more. It is the very vessel that allows me to perform and convey the love of my art to the audience watching.
If you’ve ever felt the urge to pick up dancing, don’t hesitate to do so. It’s never too late to start. What better time than now? You can try searching for online dance classes, or just pick up something as simple as TikTok dancing as a start. I promise you’ll definitely learn so much about yourself and the art along the way!