What No one Tells You About What It Means To Be a Dancer
Many people dream of being a professional dancer without giving some thought to all the aspects that come with it. It is not all sunshine and rainbows – dancesport comes with its share of ups and downs.
These are the things I’ve discovered throughout the years:
1. You will develop a very specific skill set
My belief is that people have two sets of confidence:
- core confidence
- situational confidence
For people with a high developed core confidence, which are a needle in a haystack, getting really good at something is not extremely rewarding in itself. What I mean by that is that for people that don’t already have that core confidence, it’s of great significance to first go and develop that situational confidence by building a specific skill set and that will eventually add up to their core confidence.
It’s hard to get there, it takes years, sometimes 10 years, sometimes 5, sometimes one year… It’s just a matter of finding what you really want to do and just become fully invested in it.
Dancers are particularly skilled in terms of aesthetics, creativity, physical resistance and technique and they need to work on that constantly and consistently.
2. A dancer will be fit
The good health of a dancer translates into a state of “well-being” because dancers have to be able to perform at an optimal level.The body is for dancers a tool, a means for artistic expression.
In dance, all aspects of sports are called into play: muscle resistance, strength, flexibility and neuromuscular coordination. Good physical fitness is essential to reduce the risk of injuries, improve performance and ensure a longer career.
3. A dancer’s free time turns into “dance time”
Dancers, especially those who are professionals, are going at it full speed. They go to competitions, they travel, take private lessons with a lot of coaches or trainers, they end up spending on average 2-6 h a day training.
Dance classes take so much of a dancer’s time that most people find hard to understand the sacrifice and they don’t understand we can’t “just skip a class”. That whole situation sets people apart a little bit in the sense that it’s hard for people outside the dancesport niche to resonate with our struggles.
World star Kobe Bryant was training 8 hours a day to get and maintain the level where he was. In competitive sports you really need to practice a lot in order for you to get ahead and to compete with other people who are also in the same boat.
4. A dancer has a strong character
The dance tells us all about character, it represents the concrete expression of what we are intimately. Dancers possess essentially a joyful temperament and are also charismatic, they convey cheerfulness and dynamism to others. When it comes to socialization, they are active, they have an open-minded worldview, showing hundreds of facets in the sphere of emotion.
A dancer needs to have a strong character. A dancer must master his coordination and control of his body, possess a great musical inclination and spatial orientation. Above all, he/she needs to have a great artistic performance and the ability to withstand pressure before the public, or in front of judges… Not only that, but a dancer must have sufficient willpower, a desire for self-improvement, perfectionism, self-esteem, constancy, communication and corporal expression faculties.
5. A dancer might experience injury
People in dancesport are not particularly prone to injuries, but there is still a higher risk than most activities because you are working with your body. Most injuries happen when beginners push themselves too hard physically and they do not make the movements correctly. In dancesport, it is important to control your body 100%.
Another thing to tick off the list every time, without exception, and I cannot emphasize this enough, is warming up.
Most injuries happen when you haven’t warmed up before your dance routine. Also, most injuries are located at the feet level because that’s the first contact with the ground. That’s why posterior ankle impingement and lower limb stress fractures are the most common injuries among dancers. Dancers tend to overuse the tendons and ligaments.
Also, some of us can still be passionate and stubborn enough to not take days off even though we are injured and we just choose to put more emphasis during the training on another part of the body.
6. A dancer will overcome the fear of failure and rejection
The way in which a dancer handles bad results comes down to each person’s character. If he or she is not really mature yet they will take the critique to heart, they will try to deny it, to attack the logic behind it, to say it is not worth it and they didn’t deserve it. If they are mature, they already went through the threshold and can look at it from an objective point of view.
The dancer will transform critique into constructive feedback.
Surely, there are two types of trainers: those who are teaching through fear and those who are motivational. The latter version is my favorite.
A teacher can be calm, serious or funny and still do a great job. It is also important to treat dancers as individuals, they shouldn’t feel down when they leave the dance studio. Also, if the dancer has enough self-esteem, no critique will hold him down. If the dancer doesn’t have that, it is really important that the trainer is careful with his words and with the way he communicates.
A trainer should be a mentor and teach dancers how to become self-sufficient, resilient, emotionally strong to be able to face fears and failures.
You can read more about the work of being a dancer on one of our previous articles.
As any career or activity, dancesport has his drawbacks and his highlights. It depends on you to make the best of what you’ve got.
What cons and pros have you experienced as a professional dancer? Let us know in the comments below.
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Dancing has been my passion since I was 13 and since then I've been doing things in that direction. Writing, creating and putting together the biggest community for dancers around the world!