In the past few years, with the studio (and myself) growing older, I have had the pleasure of seeing more and more alumni go on to pursue professional dance careers, higher education, get married, and have children. Finally I can agree with what ‘old’ people have always told me: they grow up so fast!
I often touch base with alumni, and with the help of social media I’m kept up to date with their goings on. And WOW I could not be prouder of the amazing young adults that have gone through Premiere’s doors! As I hear from another dancer who is auditioning in New York City, or one who is working on her Doctorate, I have come to the conclusion that dance training (be it competitive or recreational), really does translate into LIFE training.
The number one thing I see that as a common denominator in these successful alumni is confidence. In an era where women are often marginalized, and young girls are shrinking away from the spotlight, dancing gives children the confidence to try new things, and to persevere through tough challenges. It is no coincidence that often the students selected to perform speeches in front of the school, or are leaders in their school’s student council are often dancers. This confidence, fostered at a young age through dance, can go a long way!
Another commonality is determination. Whether it be in dance, or through more traditional routes, I often think that a former dancer’s training influences their ability to focus, take risks, and try something again, and again and maybe even again, until they succeed. To many parents’ chagrin, dancers typically don’t accept NO as a final answer.
And then there is the whole ‘time management’ aspect of being involved in an extra-curricular activity. Competitive dance can eat up time that could otherwise be spent on homework. A theory that I strongly believe in is that work expands to take up the amount of time you have to do it. Have an hour to finish that math homework? Guess what, you’ll likely take an hour to do it. Have 45 minutes, you just might finish it in 45 minutes. Plus, knowing that you ‘have dance tonight,’ instead of flopping on the couch to watch Netflix after school, teens will get that homework done before dance. Time management might also entail saying no to a few social engagements, but the variety of like-minded peers at the studio will more than make up for any missed movie nights.
When it comes time for university applications, interviews, and auditions, the interpersonal skills dancers acquire through their time dancing give them another advantage. In an era in which texting is the new talking, the dance studio continues to be a phone-free space. Dancers have to TALK TO EACH OTHER! And to instructors, administrators, seamstresses, and other parents. They also have to work together, regardless of whether or not they ‘like’ that person (today) or not. Dancing in a group requires trust and communication, critical skills that young people no longer necessarily develop from traditional schooling.
In summary the biggest life lesson from dance, for me, is that no matter what happens during a dance – the music stops, you fall, you forget the moves – you are taught to JUST KEEP GOING! You go until it is finished. To quote Shakespeare: ‘All the world’s a stage, And the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven stages.’ On that stage, as in life, people will come and go, your role will change, but the show must go on. You just keep going – your confidence, determination, and ability to lean on, and work with others will give a dancer an edge in an interview or audition alike.