College Dance Major: Fear of The Unknown

Dating back to as early as elementary school, I remember class projects hanging around the room for everyone to see. It was either a drawn or photographed picture of yourself; followed up by the question of what you wanted to be when you were older. I recall my classmates responses consisting of things such as wanting to be like their mom or dad, teacher, doctor, astronaut, lawyer, or even someone famous. It was their young minds expressing their “dream jobs” because that’s what everyone wanted to be; without knowing the reality of what those occupations actually involved.

Although, I have been dancing since the age of five, in elementary school I did not know that my future self wanted to be a professional dancer. My young self was definitely guilty of saying one of those occupations for the soul reason of wanting to being the same as everyone else. Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be any of those jobs when growing older, my point is that I felt expected to say one of those occupations because they were “known” and common.

“Fear of The Unknown”

Leading into later years of high school where my classmates and I had to actually start thinking about what we wanted to do with our lives. Whether it was to apply to colleges and decide on a major, jump right into the work force, or an alternative route, nothing was set in stone. This brings in the reality of the topic, “Fear of the Unknown.”

Counteracting this topic, my situation was that I did know that I wanted to go to college and that I did know that I wanted to be a professional dancer. Thus taking me to where I am now; being in my second year of college majoring in dance with a minor in business. I don’t know too many people would expect the response of being a dance major in college. Even when asked the question there is the follow up of, “What is your back up plan?”

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

-J.K. Rowling

The reality of it, is that no dancer truly knows what comes after dance. That ‘after’ of when human body won’t allow you to move at the peak it once did simply because of age. I plan to stay involved in dance the rest of my life whether it’s teaching or going to see a ballet in my old age. Commonly, the fear that is unknown is the after of dance, but I want to acknowledge the getting started in this career choice, it is a leap in itself.

I know of many talented people who pass up on the opportunity to continue their dream of having a dance career for the simple reason of being fearful. That being said, it is important to keep in mind that bravery is no small thing; bravery is a strong trait to have as a dancer. Especially since dancing expects you to be physically and emotionally available.

Following My Dreams

Being from Florida, I decided to go to an out of state college in Pennsylvania. The college I attend, Point Park University, has the lifestyle of being right in the city. Which I knew would be very different from the suburbs I grew up in. Although, I was fearful of being in a new environment the curiosity and excitement in me overcame that! I am able to explore new places allowing me to expand my knowledge on areas that once were unfamiliar to me.

Getting accepted into one of the top five dance programs in the country evoked a staggering amount of expectations and pre-conceived ideas to live up to. In fact, some of these expectations and pre-conceived notions consisted of the “unknown”. Regardless, what I could expect in my mind involved a world of being given the opportunity to become the dancer that I wanted to be. Here I am now almost two years in to this dance program. I am living, breathing, and dancing it because it is now my reality.

“To succeed, you need to find something to hold onto, something to motivate you, something to inspire you.”

-Tony Dorsett

I want the takeaway of this particular blog post to be, don’t let the unknown dictate your life. This was especially prevalent while picking what college I wanted to attend after knowing that I wanted to pursue dance as a career. I later learned this idea and instantly made the connection. As a dancer there are many unknowns that come with it, but that should not dictate your life. Do not stress or fear of the unfamiliar and know that things work out the way that they are supposed to. Something I needed to hear before I started college was to follow your dreams, put in the work, and trust the process.

Wrap up to my Freshmen Year of College: Here is What I Learned… “Living Life as a Dancer”

Until recently, throughout my younger years of dancing I had always seemed to keep my “regular life” and “dancer life” separate. I have always had the issue of living life as a dancer, meaning outside of the studio too! It was almost as if I was living separate lives with the occasion of the two crossing paths.

Throughout my freshmen year as a dance major I have accumulated and made note of new ideas and approaches discussed in various dance classes with my peers and professors. All in which I have put together to evolve around the concept of living life as a dancer. With that being said, I am going to share with you a basic list that I have formed because I felt could be used in all aspects of my life.

Living Life as a Dancer:

  • Live life radiantly
  • Every day is a final & every dance is a performance
  • Listening undividedly & undivided attention
  • Vulnerability
  • Let time take the amount time takes
  • Be extra & let go
  • Wear that outfit
  • Don’t let the unknown dictate your life
  • Bravery is no small thing
  • As a dancer, what do you have to say
  • Don’t throw away progress for the pursuit of perfection
  • Gratitude & saying “thank you”

I understand that reading this list may be just words to you, but I am going to further elaborate so you can get a full grasp of what they actually mean.

Starting at the top of the list with the idea of living life radiantly. This is meant in terms of taking the time to care for yourself both mentally and physically. Many think that this would be quite simple to do, but I found myself getting caught up with everything else in life! It’s important to remember that as a dancer simple tasks that help achieve the radiance in one’s life is beneficial. Things like taking a little break from the nonstop “go, go, go” and taking care of my body as a whole allowed me to be more stress free and acknowledge the beauty in my surroundings.

The next topic on the list I found has generally helped me to live my life to it’s fullest. Daily, I remind myself that every day is a final and every dance is a performance helping me appreciate each day more. This has made me realize that while dancing I shouldn’t save myself for the stage. That I need to dance like it is a performance each time because as I know that as I grow older into the more professional world of dance, stage time is not always guaranteed.

Something I really resonated with was to listen undividedly and give your undivided attention. This is hard to come by nowadays because the attention span of people has fallen short with distractions such as social media. I have learned that when I give someone undivided attention it tends to be reciprocated back whether this is with a peer or professor, they notice. This trait can be built up and will get you to places because like I said, people notice when you actually are paying attention.

“We are all of us, unique – each a unique pattern of creativity and if we do not fulfill it, it is lost for all time.”

-Martha Graham

Vulnerability is one of, if not the most important things I will touch on in this list of living life as a dancer. I have come to learn that being a fake and unauthentic dancer will simply do you no good. I am not saying I was a fake or unauthentic dancer, but I was not in tune with being vulnerable. A majority of my dance professors that I have had talked about being vulnerable. The second I let myself be vulnerable they were able to do the same. I realized that I could take this beyond my dancing and grow to learn that it is okay to be a vulnerable person outside of the studio. This is not in a way to expose any weaknesses to the world, but to be genuine and not portray myself to be something I am not.

A few statements on the list that are somewhat self-explanatory are let time take the amount time takes. I find this helps not only outside of the studio, but in dance situations I may be dealing with. For example, when dancing with specific movements such as slow movements or improvisation, I know some dancers find it to be uncomfortable. Another is to be extra and let go which means what it says. There are times where I was told to be extra and let go because I hindered myself while dancing by being in control. It is a process, but sometimes one needs to not have a care in the world.

‘‘A dancer is not a phenomenon…not a phenomenal creature I think he is a divine normal. He does what the human body is capable of doing.’’

-Martha Graham

I know everyone has that one outfit that is in their closet that has yet to be worn. Whether there hasn’t been the right occasion or it is too precious to be worn out. I am here to tell you to wear that outfit! You may be wondering how this translates to dance and I thought the same thing at first. What is meant by this phrase is that there may not always be a right time to wear or do something, but do not sit around waiting either. Sometimes making something happen within your dancing, that feeling or movement comes with putting on that “outfit.”

Continuing on with the living life as a dancer list, don’t let the unknown dictate your life. This was especially prevalent while picking what college I wanted to attend. I later learned this idea and instantly made the connection. As a dancer there are many unknowns that come with it, but these unknowns should not dictate your life. Another is that bravery is no small thing; with being a dancer bravery is a strong trait to have since dancing requires much of you physically and emotionally.

One of the few final ideas on this list especially applies to one’s dancing. Keeping this thought, as a dancer, what do you have to say in mind helps tremendously with building up artistry. This was discussed with one of my dance professors and they brought to my attention that I could be a different artist everyday saying something new with my dancing. Don’t throw away progress for the pursuit of perfection is something else I learned and now live by because the second one throws away their progress they are back at square one. Progress is made little by little each day eventually reaching the idea of perfection.

I feel that the word gratitude is a great way to end this list on living life as a dancer. Not many people take the time to say thank you and create a personal connection with gratitude. This is always a wonderful word to keep in mind not only with dance, but other aspects of life as well. I find that it is quite amazing that I have learned lessons in college that can be utilized into everyday life building upon the idea of “ living life as a dancer.”

Which idea on this list resonated with you the most and why? Comment Below.

How I got into Dance: Who or What Inspired me to Dance?

About a year ago from today I was given the prompt, “Who or what inspired me to dance?” One could guess that this would be quite a simple question to answer since dance is very prominent in my life. I noticed that while writing this prompt there was an extensive amount of detail that could have been further discussed. I figured I could share to you all these special moments in which inspired me being that dance is our common interest!

Getting into Dance!

Years later asking her today, my mom claims that the reason she put me in dance was not only because she took dance lessons when she was younger, but her words were that “all girls should take ballet.” She meant this in terms of its elegance, poise, and how it was a good extra-curricular activity. Though, she did not know that this extra-curricular would eventually turn into a passion that I would make into a career.

Who or What Inspired me to Dance?

Now to clarify the thought that this would be quite a simple question to answer; it’s rather more complex, due to the fact that there is more than one person or thing that inspired me to dance. Sure, I was put into dance when I was much younger; but falling in love with dance and knowing that I wanted to make a career out of it is when I came to find out who or what inspired me to dance.

One of the most authentic things that I know inspired me to do what I do today was reminiscing back to the days to when I took my first few ballet classes. I would compare different bedazzled skirts each one of us had and walk around on my tip-toes with my new pair of ballet flats. This was all while thinking of how pretty my bun looked in the mirror because my mom had put a lavender bow in that day. But more specifically I remember dancing around with the other girls having the time of my life falling in love with the art form in the purest way possible. Thinking back on moments like these where the hard work hadn’t yet been put in inspired me greatly knowing that my younger self had fallen in love without even knowing it.

Another moment that comes to mind was when I decided to change dance studios. I originally came from a fairly large studio that did it all… tap, jazz, ballet, modern, and hip-hop. I was twelve years old and decided I was going to attend another local summer intensive at America’s Ballet School. This was a much smaller studio that focused on ballet and modern. During this local summer intensive, I found that I was further challenged in the style of dance that I wanted to focus on. I also noticed how the older dancers at this studio had a beautifully strong technique in which I longed to have. Finally, at the end of this three-week summer intensive, my twelve year-old self said to the artistic director, “This is it! I’m staying here.” I had found the place and environment I wanted to grow in as a dancer.

Now, at the time I didn’t know this would be a moment of inspiration until I graduated high school. Before I left to attend college at Point Park University I had one last conversation with the same artistic director and she looked at me and said,  “You know the one thing I remember about you Jennah… are the words you said when your first came here,” and then she repeated the exact words my younger self said. At the time I truly forgot I even said those words, but when she repeated them to me I had a recollection of what I felt when I originally said them. The eagerness of my younger self came back; not that it wasn’t necessarily always there, but it was I was reminded of it again.

‘‘Dancing is an art. The floor is my canvas. And I am the brush. And whatever I create comes from the heart.’’


This quote was shared to me by one of my first influential ballet teachers, Nanako Yamamoto. I grew a greater appreciation for it later on.

Other than specific moments that inspired me to continue dancing, I have daily spurs of inspiration and I am sure many of you can relate. These are the moments when I am in the studio and forget about everything. It is a state of bliss while feeling divinely inspired to be an artful being and every dancer at some point or another has or will experience this! If I were to explain this feeling to you I would tell you to think of something that puts you in a blissful state of mind. Whether this blissful thing is a place or person, exaggerate that until it feels almost unreal. That is a grasp of what these daily spurs feel like when comes to being inspired.

Overall, I could say that there are various things that inspired me to be the dancer I am today. It is easy to let the moments of inspiration escape your mind. I thank the times like these where being asked who or what inspired me to dance fulfill me once again allowing for myself to take a moment and reminisce on how I got here. I want to leave you with the same question…

Who or what inspired you to dance? Comment below.