I started ballet classes at the age of four and was immediately in love with it. Soon, my love grew for all types of dance. Tap, jazz, contemporary, character, lyrical…you name it. If it was dance, I was doing it. I remember when I bought my very first pointe shoes. I carried them around with me everywhere, and treated them like glass slippers. I danced for fourteen years, and sometimes dance in community theater productions to this day. Dance will always have a special place in my heart, and I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to have had it in my life.
After spending so much time in dance studios, here are some of the things I learned that have prepared me for life, my career, and so much more.
Being a dancer is not all fun and games. It’s tough, stressful, and I had to miss out on things because of it. But I don’t regret what I had to give up in order to perform or rehearse. I was dedicated to the sport because I loved what I was doing.
I had my heart set on being Clara in “The Nutcracker” for years. When my studio held auditions for the role and I was old enough to try out, I threw myself into rehearsals and practiced so much to prepare for the audition. I stayed up late and woke up early just to practice. When the auditions came, I showed my teachers that I really wanted the part. But when I didn’t get the role, I was devastated. Years later, after moving to a new state and new dance school, I was chosen for the role. Though I was older, I loved every rehearsal I went to. I had persevered, and had finally achieved my dream.
Dance taught me that it’s hard to be so committed to something without passion. Spending most of my spare time dancing or teaching ballet to children and figure skaters wouldn’t have been worth it if I didn’t absolutely love it. I loved the feeling I got the moment I stepped on stage, or when I learned something new and nailed it. Dance showed me how important it is to do things that you love and are passionate about.
There’s always going to be someone who’s better than you, older than you, skinnier than you, prettier than you, and more experienced than you. I had to learn to accept who I was as a dancer and learn that in the end, I was doing the best I could do. It took me some time to realize that I’m not always going to be the best, but to learn to love who I am.
Although there are solos in dance, I mainly worked in a classroom with a lot of other dancers who were like me. Learning how to dance with so many different types of girls growing up, from drama queens, to those that were favored, to those that just weren’t very good or didn’t care about dance at all, taught me a lot about how to deal with different personalities. In any career field, you have to be able to work with different types of people, and dance helped me to be able to do that.
I was homeschooled up through high school, and I remember going to dance classes right after my work was done. Dance was my social time, exercise, and love. I danced six days a week, managed all my school work, and in high school, I took dual credit at a community college. I had to learn to manage my time wisely, to focus on my work and get it done in a timely manner so that I could enjoy dance afterward. My organization skills are because of my time management that I had to learn during my dancing years.
Dance is art. I remember spending my time coming up with dances and even teaching children how to dance in my spare time. To this day, a song will come on the radio and I can still choreograph a routine in my head. The expression of dance is so creative, and I believe that being in a creative hobby growing up is what led me to be in a creative profession: marketing. Dance also showed me that I thrive in creative environments, which is something I always keep on my forefront for career opportunities.
There was one performance where I was so nervous, I was on the brink of vomiting. My teacher gave me to option to not go on stage, but I was so determined to wear my clown costume and dance the role of the Bon Bon in Mother Ginger’s dance in “The Nutcracker,” that I overcame my fear. I didn’t want to bail, give up, or quit. With any profession, you will be judged and critiqued by people who are better, more beautiful, more creative, or stronger than you. Every performance was an opportunity to be critiqued, but the passion was always stronger than the fear! My passion pushed me to overcome my fear.
Dance can be stressful. From trying to maintain weight and size to acing fouettes and triple pirouettes, dance can be competitive, stressful, and exhausting. There were times when I was stressed with school work which carried into me being stressed at dance practices. But I’m able to handle stress now in my career and personal life because I had to learn to deal with the stress in dance.
I had some tough teachers as I progressed in my dancing years. I remember the countless blisters, calluses, and bleeding toes I had after I started pointe. My teachers had high expectations, and I strived to impress them so I could be chosen for the roles I wanted. They pushed me to always try harder, to always set goals and work hard to achieve them, and this discipline carried over into other aspects of my life as well. If you want something bad enough, you have to be willing to work for it.