"Why put your child in dance classes?"
"Why do/did you dance?"
These are the types of questions I’ve gotten over my years as a professional.
I often wonder why I dance or continue to go back to the studio. I know that my parents put me in dance initially because they thought it would be good physical discipline and expose me to classical music and classical culture. I know they never dreamed I would make a career out of it.
I initially started at a "Dolly Dinkle School of Dance" type of studio. It was convenient, right down the street from our house. At the time, my parents didn’t know anything about quality training, nor were they necessarily looking for it. They were just looking to put me in a fun class, where I would hopefully gain some good character lessons.
I fell in love with dance. The following year, my parents researched and found the best training in the DC area. It was a 30-45 minute drive with traffic, but they considered it well worth it for the level of training I would receive. As long as I was passionate about dance and willing to work hard, they were willing to make sacrifices to ensure I was placed in the best training.
Through the years of training and dancing professionally I learned just as much about myself as I did dance. I struggled with insecurity, desperation for approval, jealousy, perfectionism, body image and almost anything you can imagine a teen girl and young adult struggling with. There were always more reasons to quit than keep dancing, but somehow I always ended up back at the barre working and soaking in sweat.
In high school I danced six days a week for sometimes as many hours a day as I was in school. And let’s not forget about the homework and late hours. I don’t know how I did it, but I did. I was taught to get up and work. Get up and kill the flesh. There was no room for laziness and idleness. I just worked. I didn’t care that I didn’t have a “normal” childhood; this was my "normal" and I was grateful to be different. Sometimes it made it hard to relate to other kids in my school, but I didn’t care. I had goals and I would stop at nothing to achieve them.
I never quit. I wanted to quit dance many times but my parents and dance instructors always encouraged me to follow through with my commitments and keep pressing on. I’m so grateful for having parents and teachers that invested in me the way they did. I learned how to finish what I started and I found my passion and calling. Nothing worth having comes easily, but people often cave at the first sight of adversity or boredom. Many people are average, but dance training molds some of the most extraordinary and resilient people in the world.
No matter what a dance student’s future holds, dance teaches them many life lessons. A career in dance isn’t for everyone, but the lessons they teach help students in whatever their vocation and calling becomes.
Keep dancing. Keep working. Keep dreaming.
Liz Kraft Hubbard