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
- 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.”