Dancers Are Special. This was the tag line at my family-owned and -operated dance studio. I heard these words at the studio and at home. One of my older sisters is over-the-top dramatic. Like captivating, make-a-splash, you-know-she’s-in-the-room, can’t-reel-her-in, dramatic. Whenever she communicated our tag line, you believed her.
When I was a student in her class, she’d have us exit the room then require us to immediately walk back in. The second time, however, we were to make eye contact with her, our teacher; nonverbally obtain permission to enter; walk around, not through, dancers; and do so with our chin up and shoulders down . . . sometimes while balancing a book on our head.
Dance training produces more than just physical benefits. In dance class, we practice patience while standing attentively with our hands by our sides, waiting our turn during progressions or when another student or group demonstrates. We encourage, support, and applaud fellow dancers as an expression of kindness. We humbly accept corrections with an understanding that learning is a lifelong process. Our silence during class and the asking of permission to enter and exit a class are simply displays of respect for our teachers and fellow dancers. We walk around and never through the middle of a class. We gesture with curtsies, hugs, and handshakes to thank our teachers at the end of class. If we’re older or more advanced students, we learn leadership skills through assisting and helping younger dancers.
It’s incredible the number of skills you learn during a dance class that will benefit you the rest of your life!
My sister also held discussions on the nobility of dance, which served to place every student on notice that we had a responsibility to present ourselves well. She reminded us that dancers are good listeners, and smart fast learners who accept instruction well.
The hard work, sweat, and sense of accomplishment we experience on the dance floor, taken as a whole, is what gives us confidence when we’re out in the real world. It’s what makes us dancers know that we’re special.