Lessons From Being A Dancer
Updated: Jan 21, 2022
From the time I was two up until my recent college graduation, the word “dancer” has been closely tied to my identity. In many ways, I’m the product of a dance studio and the product of all the characteristics you might associate with dance, in particular, ballet.
I began dancing at an age where I hadn’t fully grasped how to speak. In a lot of ways, this makes sense. Dancing and communication have always circled around one another, pushing and pulling me in different directions. It’s ironic that my college majors were Dance Performance and Communications Studies. How serendipitous.
But truly, the way I communicate through and because of dance has always been a bit challenging for me. Because of dance, I can express myself freely and with attention to detail. But because of dance, the idea of perfection is always lingering in the back of my mind.
Ballet is easily my favorite style besides contemporary and improvisation, but I’ve also trained in it for the longest. I put on a pair of pointe shoes before so many other milestones.
It’s interesting when I think back because as someone who’s known for being goofy and outlandish, I took myself so seriously in tights and a leotard. Something about smoothing my hair into a tightly pinned bun brought out my most type A self, where I internalized my struggles and criticized my every move (literally).
This isn’t to say that ballet broke me—it’s quite the opposite actually. I’ve always battled back and forth between my extroverted personality and internalized way of thinking, and I’ve found ballet to be my middle ground, the place where I learned to literally and figuratively balance myself.
With a mind that has never seemed to be quiet, dance taught me how to slow down and focus. It taught me how to be present in a way that nothing else ever has.
I don’t plan on pursuing a professional career in dance. That’s something that took me a long time to admit to myself. When you spend so much of your life working on this one thing, it can feel daunting to consider anything else. But I read a quote once that said:
“A lesson will repeat itself until it is learned.”
21 years later, I’ve learned to stop ignoring my other interests. Dance will always remain a part of my identity, but I’ve realized that life’s too short to spend pleasing other people and following a path that you’ve outgrown.
The last two years have shown me parts of life without the word “dancer” stamped on them, and I can’t see myself going back. I love dance with every part of me, but my priorities have shifted, and that’s okay.
At the moment I see myself writing and traveling and building a life from there. The lessons I’ve learned from dance are invaluable though, so no matter where life takes me, I know every now and then I’ll find myself leaping over a puddle or dancing my way down the grocery aisle. People will look at me and probably think “dancer,” but that’s okay. They wouldn’t be wrong.