Written by Emi Rucinski
Dance classes are exciting and challenging, but how exactly does it help dancers outside of a studio environment? As a dancer who began at 3yrs old, both my recreational and competitive dance lessons have taught me skills and strengthened attributes that I utilize day-to-day in both educational and professional settings. Reflecting on my past fourteen years, here are the five most valuable things that dance has taught me for life.
Working with other people is never easy. Now, try to dance with other people, in front of other people, in sync, doing challenging moves, while smiling and making it all look effortless… is definitely never easy. The bond that I’ve been lucky enough to create with my fellow dancers has not only made this difficult task easier but has led me through ups and downs that have taught me how to be a contributing member of a group.
As a child, it takes a while to learn that if you want something, sometimes you have to work extra hard to get it. In dance, each dancer must set goals for themselves to achieve any new skill, whether it be getting your acro bridge from standing or finally dancing en pointe. The patience and discipline it takes to continuously push yourself to achieve goals is something I use on a daily basis, whether it be restricting how much time I spend with my friends to getting into my dream university or budgeting my money so I can get that cute dress I saw online.
No matter how many dance classes you take a week or how many hours you’re in the studio, time management is a skill that you have to strengthen, both in and out of the dance environment. Dancers, both competitive and recreational can be in the studio ranging anywhere on average from one to fifteen hours a week, so organizing your time is a must. As an alumni of the Conservatory of Dance and Music’s competitive team for 5 years, I was forced to teach myself time management from an earlier age than most. Balancing rehearsal time along with regular classes, commute time, and competitions all come with taking on competitive dance. As a pre-teen and teenager, organizing schoolwork, social time, family time, and dance was no easy task, yet as each year came and went, it slowly became second nature.
Not only is dance amazing physical exercise, it’s an art form in and of itself. The ability to express your emotions while dancing and inputting your personal style is what makes it so easy to fall in love with dance. The skills I’ve learned to think outside of the box and apply my own, original ideas are what have led me to make unique school assignments that would earn the A-plus instead of the A, or answer a job interview question with something the interviewer has never heard before.
When your ballet teacher asks you to do a triple pirouette en pointe to the left, it’s easy to question why you’re so passionate about dance. However, as soon as you get that triple pirouette en pointe to the left, there’s no doubt in your mind that this is what you want to do. And if you fall in front of all your friends in the middle of the studio, you have no choice but to get back up and try that pirouette again, because your ballet teacher won’t take giving up as an answer. Taking that mindset and applying it to all other aspects of life encompasses all the lessons that dance can teach you about life. If you’re passionate about what you do and you’re willing to work hard and persevere to reach your goals, you can achieve what you may have thought was impossible.