As dancers, we always say that our body is our instrument. We need it in order to perform — which means we also need to take really good care of it. That’s one of the [many, many] benefits of being a dancer: We’re totally in tune with our bodies, even at a young age.
Here are six ways dance teaches us to love and appreciate our awesome instruments…
1. It shows us that we are strong. Whether it’s a slow and controlled adagio or a rapid-fire petit allegro, dance helps us release our inner lionesses. Sometimes that means holding your leg up just a little longer in developpé, and other times it means doing that across-the-floor variation just one more time, even though you’re already exhausted. And dancers know that the only way to get stronger is to work at it.
2. It shows us what we’re capable of. Triple pirouette? Side aerial? Double-time pullbacks? There are plenty of dance moves or techniques that look or seem really hard, especially when watching a seasoned performer pull them off. But with a little (OK, a lot of) hard work, those moves can become part of your repertoire. Focusing on a new skill, trick, or technique is a great way to push — and surpass — our limits.
3. It helps us hone in on our weaknesses — so we can turn them into strengths. If you ask one of your non-runner friends which side is their “good side,” they probably won’t have a quick answer. But as dancers, we have a good leg, a good turning side, and a preferred direction to travel across the floor. Sure, dance may uncover our weaknesses, but only so we can work on them and turn them into strengths.
4. It teaches us to prioritize recovery. Is it tempting to go right from the studio to sleep? Yes. But all dancers know that recovery is key, and that it’s just as important as all that hardcore training in the studio and during rehearsals. Foam rolling may be painful at first, but it’s a crucial part of the process — and it’s a nice way to give back to the body we just worked so hard.
5. It makes us actually want to eat healthy foods. Ice cream is delicious. Cheeseburgers are the best. French fries are fabulous. But no one ever landed a principal role at American Ballet Theatre fueled solely by fast food. (Right?) Part of being a well-rounded dancer means filling up on wholesome, nutritious foods, so you can look, feel, and dance your best. It makes chowing down on a giant salad, well, kind of rewarding!
6. We actually live by the phrase “listen to your body.” Sure, we probably push through a little more pain than most people, but we know that if we get hurt, we won’t be able to dance. And nothing is worse than not being able to dance!