In honor of Labor Day tomorrow, I thought I would share some qualities of a hard-working dancer with you. I hope you enjoy it and that it leaves with you something to think about.
Dance is one of the hardest professions that somebody can take under their wing. You have to be mentally prepared and quick to grasp things (learning Swan Lake in a month is quite difficult), but you also have to be physically fit, strong and athletic. Dance is also a real mental game with your teachers and your competition. On top of it the whole dance world predetermines the outcome for your professional career. It’s so, so difficult!
However, some dancers have it easier than others. They may have a well-proportioned body, a longer neck, inherently quicker turns, better turnout or more arched feet. Those dancers don’t have to work as hard to stand out. Subsequently, these are often the dancers that we envy. We wish we could be like them and dance like them too!
So today, in honor of Labor Day, I want to take a moment to appreciate the hard-working dancers: those who don’t necessarily have perfect bodies and adequately arched feet, but still love what they do.
These dancers believe in one sacred principle of training: the more time you put in, the more you get out of it. It’s something that every dancer should believe in. You can’t make it in this profession without a work ethic, without drive, and without passion.
Many dancers, who are more naturally talented, will excel in training and sky-rocket to the top of their ballet school within a matter of months upon arrival. But, when they get a company contract they find themselves lost and injured. This is because they aren’t used to the extremely heavy workload that a company contract entails. They didn’t get practice during their years at ballet school.
The progression through a ballet career involves some very difficult transitions: from the bottom of a school to the top, from the top of the school to the bottom of a company, from the bottom of a company to the top. And then, it’s all gone. You’ve put so much work into this career and you get little salary out of it, only bitter nostalgia, and little pay-back for the physical strain you endured. You are just …retired.
This is a dilemma that all hard-working dancers must face up to. For more natural dancers, it’s less of a stark transition – it’s the same life you had, just without dancing. But for a hard-working dancer, your entire life has disappeared on you, because you spent that time working hard in the studio, and when you stop you have to start something new from scratch.
So, the transitions of a dance career are virtually impossible to deal with and they really determine which dancers will make it through and which dancers will have to drop out. If you watch closely, the naturally-talented dancers that haven’t learned a work ethic are slowly weeded out. Left at the top are those that work hard and make it, have passion and genuinely love what they do.
But, if you are one of those naturally-talented dancers, don’t worry. Just because you are advantaged it doesn’t mean that you will be weeded out …quite the opposite, actually: Dancers that have great bodies and have learned to work hard, be intelligent, take care of themselves, and be passionate have a fantastic, increased ability to make it to the top! Those that don’t make it are the un-passionate ones.
So my point is this: it is worth recognizing the hard-working dancer as they have it harder than anyone! Regardless of the physical pain and the sacrifices they make to give their life to dance, they still love what they do and are the most passionate ones of all.
So, if you are a hard-working dancer, don’t lose what you have! While us dancers may scroll through Instagram and comment and like the photos of dancers with great feet, 180-degree turnout, and fantastic turning abilities, we still appreciate the great dancer that you are, and we know that above all, passion is what counts. So, never give up!
Thanks for reading today’s post, and I hope it will motivate you during this first week of school! Make this school year a year of passion and hard work, and you will be left with all the benefits in the world. I’ll see you on Wednesday with a new post!
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