By Lauren Beard
20 Things I Learned As a Ballet Dancer
- Learning to Sew - maybe even more than in Home EC! From attaching pointe shoe ribbons, rhine-stoning, fixing to tutus, or even making costumes from scratch! All dancers have their beloved stitch kit in their dance bags at all times. I learned to DIY very quickly when it came to altering and fixing costumes which continues to be a very useful skill!
- Becoming My Own Hair Stylist: Throwing my hair into a neat little bun became a simple and daily ritual as a child. As I grew up and tried to master the “messy bun”, it always seemed too disheveled to me and ended up in a ballerina bun anyway! Not only are dancers able to style their hair in many ways, we are able to do it in under a minute! Again, another incredibly useful skill.
- Learning the Difference Between Normal and Stage Makeup: While stage makeup may look pretty ON stage, it can be a little frightening up close! Wearing false lashes and bright red lipstick as an eight year old was definitely something out of the normal. Being over the top with our makeup prevents dancers from being washed out on stage. As we say, “More is more”!
- Second Skin: MY BEST FRIEND during show season. Second Skin helps dancers treat painful blisters from pointe shoes. As the saying states, “The show must go on!”
- Black became my favorite color: Black leotards, black jazz pants, black jazz shoes, everything! I would have to say that 75% of the clothes I own are now black. After all, it is a slimming color, right?
- Stage presence: Without dance, I would have never been able to compete in pageantry like I do now! Ballet dancers acquire a confidence on stage as we are trained to radiate an aura of elegance in posture in movement.
- Team work: While dancing is a relatively individual sport, it requires a group effort to pull off aesthetically pleasing choreography. You want to help make not only yourself look good, but everyone else as well.
- Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. The only person you should compete with is yourself. I learned that I don’t have the same conditions or body as everyone else so I may progress and learn differently. Now, I never try to be better than anyone else, I only try to be better than I was yesterday.
- The Pointe Shoe Graveyard: We don’t throw out our pointe shoes….. EVER! I think all dancers have one wall or pile in their house with all of the pointe shoes they have ever owned. In my own personal pointe shoes graveyard, there are about 60 pointe shoes! Why don’t we throw them away? Although they do cause a lot of pain, they become a sacred part of a dancer’s life.
- NEVER wear open toed shoes in public during performance season! Blisters, blisters, blisters…. Definitely not a cute thing to sport in the summer!
- Quick Changes: Thanks to quick changes, I can change my entire outfit in 30 seconds flat. This has been a lifesaver for those days where I just keep hitting snooze!
- Self-confidence: I spent a lot of time looking at myself in the mirror at ballet class. You see every imperfection and flaw but after a while, you begin to own it. Dance has allowed me to have self-confidence and a positive body image more than I could have imagined.
- Bobby pins… EVERYWHERE. In the car, book bag, bed, shower, I’m not kidding! If I had a dollar for every bobby pin laying around in my house, I’d be rich!
- Feeling sore becomes a good feeling. Feeling sore reassures you that you’re doing something right. It’s the feeling of getting stronger and perfecting the sport of dance.
- “One more time” is a lie. Each time a teacher says “One more time”, expect to do the choreography at least five more! Looking back on it, I couldn’t be more grateful to have teachers who always supported me and pushed me to be my best.
- Everything is an eight count. No matter what I’m doing, it always begins with 5-6-7-8!
- Hairspray Galore: I have inhaled more hairspray than I probably ever should in life. At the end of a show week, there is probably a thin layer of hairspray coating all of our lungs. Don’t worry though, no one has ever gotten sick because of it!
- There is no such thing as “perfect”. In ballet, you always want to be “perfect”. One can try for months or years but there will always be flaws. I learned to not worry about perfection. As long as I was working my hardest and sharing my passion for ballet with others, I was content.
- The people at dance become a family. Being surrounded by people that have the same passion for dance that I have was absolutely incredible. Thanks to being in dance I have nearly 20 more “sisters”!
- “Sorry, I can’t. I have dance.” - All the time. But do I regret missing out on hanging out on weekends like others kids? Not one bit. Being a dancer has taught me beneficial life lessons that I will carry in my heart forever.
Lauren Beard is Renaissance Theatre's Marketing and Development intern (only on Day 3!) for the summer. She has been a lifelong ballet dancer and currently attends Ohio State University. She will be competing in Miss Ohio, June, 2018.