Friday, August 31, 2012

Dear Dance Student: Words of Wisdom from an Older Dancer


Amy Marshall

Treat class -- and your every opportunity to dance-- as a gift, as a special time for you.

Leave your emotional baggage outside.  Let class be your chance to think only about you.  Let it be your therapy.  Let it heal.

Listen to every correction given.  Try to implement it, even if it wasn’t given to you.

Take a correction to the endth degree.  Your teacher can always pull you back.

If you don’t understand the correction, ask.

A dance class is a lab.  Experiment continually.  Never do it the same way twice.

Even if doing so is outside your comfort zone, stand in the front sometimes.  Your teacher is only human. S/he may move students around, but if it seems you don’t want to be seen, you just might not be.

Don’t worry about her feet, her extension, how many turns he does or her natural alignment.  Work with what you have.  Celebrate your gifts, while working your damndest to overcome any shortcomings.

Sarah Cullen Fuller


There is only one you.  You can’t work to your fullest potential trying to be someone else. 

Competition and knowing the strengths of other dancers is healthy, as long it is a motivating force, not a defeating one. 


While there may be a few exceptions out there, every teacher has something to offer.  Never write anyone off because you don’t like her build, style, attire, body decoration, etc.

The dance world is maybe 2 degrees of separation. Always be diligent and respectful.  Word about bad behavior moves faster than a Balanchine petit allegro.

While your teacher should be respectful, s/he is not there to be your friend, but to make you a better dancer. 

If you can find teachers whose class speaks to you, and where you are both complimented and thoughtfully corrected, you are very lucky indeed.

Alexandra Beller

Believe that pushing through and learning something in that weird/boring/super challenging class will pay off.  In the New Dance Order of America these days, the versatile dancer – the one with a solid understanding of several techniques – gets the prize.

There will always be bad days.  Do not be defined by them.

Push yourself.  Hard.  But acknowledge when you have done all you can, at least for the time being.  Sometimes the epiphany, the breakthrough, comes later. 

Immediate gratification is rare.  When it happens it is the result of years of training. The fun and the joy are in the struggle.

Keep dance in perspective.  Know that you can still be a smart, loving, fantastic person with a great life even if one day you can’t buy a decent pirouette. 

It is never too early to gain a firm grasp on somatic concepts.  If you wait too long to develop this beautiful mind, your body might be an unwilling partner. 

Feats of nature -- contortionesque flexibility, oodles of pirouettes, sky-high jumps are dazzling. But remember that dance is communication.  Dance is artistry.  Keep in mind the power and potential of small and simple movement.

Did I say to treat every chance to dance as a gift? 

Dancer: Keesha Beckford
photo: Cheryl Mann


8 comments:

  1. this is fantastic! I'm going to put this up on my wall to start this year of dancing :)

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    1. Thanks so much! This is exactly what I'd hoped for. May your year be off to a great start!

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  2. This is inspiring for any artist. I'm inspired.

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    1. Awwwww. And you inspire me too, Ms. Shaw!

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  3. Thanks to Nicole for giving you a shout out. This post is inspiring and can be applied to so many aspects of life. Great lessons for all.

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    1. Thank you! I am loving that this post speaks not only to other artists but to life in general, when I had meant it as a dance thing. So glad it spoke to you.

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  4. Keesha I love this post! I have some experience of taking class in NYC but more as a singer/actress than dancer but it's so true in dance class and in life. I only wish I could have listened more to the women who went before me when I was in my 20's. Thank you so much for letting us share this post on Bonbon Break this week! Our readers are in for a treat!!!

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  5. Great write-up! Writing is a talent, and it must not be wasted. As with everything that we had been entrusted, we should

    let it grow and share it with the world.>learner motivation

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