Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to dance, my parents used to tell me they did not have time to take me to classes or money to buy me costumes so they decided not to enrol me in dance classes. Still with the dream of dancing alive in my heart, at the age of 17 I finally got to enrol in a Dance School and six months later traveled to Cape Town to join the Dance Stream at Hillsong International Leadership College.
The question that I got the most while I took a year to improve my dance skills and learn more about it was “How is this useful for your future? You will starve if you ever pretend to work as a dancer”. Not really the most encouraging answer but definitely one that encouraged me to investigate and experience for myself what the world of a professional dancer was all about.
Following a dream
It all started as a daydream, you were probably 5 years old and your parents took you to a ballet or a dance performance. It was then when you saw them for the first time, that beautiful ballerina with perfect lines and a delicate body, who could stand on her toes and jump in ways you never thought possible; then that strong male dancer, with precise movements and strong lines, who looked more like an athlete with style, a superhero who caught the ballerina and threw her in the air always following the music.
Who are these people? You may have asked yourself, but after that night all you knew is that they were who you wanted to become one day.
I don’t think there is such thing as a dancer without passion, it is impossible to go through all the sacrifice, hard work and commitment required if you don’t love what you do. If you thought dance was all about performances and all it took was to stand on stage and do your thing, you are terribly wrong.
A solid foundation
There is nothing like a good dance class, one where your technique is challenged and you are stretched beyond your boundaries. The truth is classes never stop , they are the eternal foundation for what you do on stage. Even once you enter a company like Cape Town Dance Company or The South African Ballet, you are still required to attend classes every morning regardless of the amount of rehearsals you have to be a part of during the rest of the day.
As a dancer you have to continually work to stay fit, you are required to stay at your best, a point that you have to continually pursue since what your “Best” looks like keeps changing and growing. Classes like Dance Technique and Pilates are key to continue to develop muscles and maintain your overall well being.
Sometimes the outcome of a class determines the rest of your day, since it serves you to see where you are at and it allows you to analyse your performance during rehearsals.
Beauty from the inside out
You would be amazed to discover the maintenance dancers need to constantly go through emotionally, physically and mentally. Constantly attending physiotherapy sessions, taking care of their sleeping schedule and monitoring their food list, dancers carry a beauty that comes from the inside out.
For one to be ready to give their everything every day there is a need for passion, but also a need for rest. The South African Ballet members share on their Youtube channel what they enjoy doing on their time off, some of them mentioning sport activities like biking, playing soccer, playing with the dog, painting or simply staying at home doing nothing. It is literally impossible to project genuine beauty on the outside if the inside is struggling to find balance.
The multitalented artist
Most professional dancers left home at a very young age to pursue their dream, simply because of such a decision they develop a unique discipline that keeps them on track throughout their career. More than just performing on stage, it is important to mention that dancers also take care of their own make up and hair, they also have a strong musical theory foundation and even step into acting skills once they have to represent a character.
They are also models, who dance on tutus and different costumes that sometimes could even be 30 years old. They learn to adapt to such attires and understand the level of movement each fabric and costume shape can handle in order to still look beautiful to the audience.
In conclusion, dancers are the perfect mix between athletes and artists, fuelled by passion and sustained by discipline. In what other way do you think dancers are worth admiring?