Many lessons from dancing apply to life in general: The value of partnership, the importance of lifelong learning with great coaches, the influence of your thoughts in how you perform.
With this, it also makes sense that critical life lessons would apply to dance. There are many great life lessons, but the three best that I have heard are:
- Make sure that you have skills and independent thinking, so that you can take care of yourself.
- Always do your best in everything you do for yourself or others. If it is not worth your best, you should probably not do it at all.
- Never have any intention, or act on any intention, to hurt anyone.
So the questions now are: How does each apply to dancing compared to life? And, are they harder to achieve in life or dancing?
1. Make sure you have skills and independent thinking, so that you can take care of yourself.
In life, independence gives you self-confidence, and gains respect from others.
- Respect is important, but in many ways the self-confidence part is actually a bigger deal.
- Feeling totally dependent on one person, many people or just fate in general, can create a particular type of learned helplessness and fearful thinking, both of which are linked to depression and anxiety.
- Dependence is different than accepting help. Dependence makes you feel weaker. The best help builds your skills and makes you feel stronger.
- Also, it is just a lot more fun and way more fulfilling to learn, grow and do, than wait, hope and need.
In dancing, it is pretty much impossible not to develop your own skills and thoughts.
- Your coach teaches you, but can not dance for you.
- Your partner can enhance you, but can never do your job on the flioor.
- And there is no big team to cover you.
- Even if you want to, dancing won’t let you pass the buck to someone else.
- Perhaps that is why dancing gives such an intense sense of accomplishment, why it builds the kind of poise that comes from earned confidence and why it is often an antidote to the blues.
- As said by the Austrian writer Vicki Baum, “There are short-cuts to happiness and dancing is one of them”. – I agree!
2. Always do your best in everything you do for yourself or others. If it is not worth your best, you should probably not do it at all.
Well… in life doing your best 100% of the time makes sense, but, sometimes it’s pretty hard.
- You can push yourself hard at work or school, but that may not brush your hair so perfectly on Sunday morning.
- In general though, there is a lot to be said about this lesson.
- Consider the people with the greatest success in their endeavors and the greatest joy in their lives. They are also most likely the ones that live with passion and drive, and they tend to be the ones who do the most for others.
- By doing the most for others, I am not talking about giving away all their earthy goods or doing charity work every moment of every day. I am talking about listening fully when someone else speaks; caring openly and honestly regardless of whether or not it is convenient; speaking in a helpful way and without manipulation; and following through reliably and completely on all commitments to the best of their ability.
- They also don’t waste their energy figuring out how much they do this at different times, or flipping back and forth in their attitudes. It is how the are all the time. With this, they give the same care and effort to themselves and all of their own pursuits as they give to others, so they attract goodwill and achieve success in both ways.
In dancing, one learns quickly to give your best and to support your partner and others to be their best.
- If you hold back in practice, you are practicing to be less than you can be.
- If you lose focus on the floor for even a split second, you may fall.
- If you take any dancesport heat for granted, it will be more obvious than you think, and you will get pretty telling feedback when you see the results.
- In social dancing, if you look bored and distracted when you dance, you will have a lonely evening. Most potential partners would prefer a less skilled dancer over a disengaged one.
- On the other hand, the best and quickest way to learn and to develop yourself, is to teach and develop someone else without reservation.
- Martha Graham is famously quoted as saying, “Great dancers are great because of their passion.” She also said “All that is important is each moment. Make the moment important, vital, and worth living. Do not let it slip away unnoticed and unused.” – makes perfect sense.
3. Never have any intention or act on any intention to hurt anyone.
This one seems pretty obvious but people do sometimes intentionally hurt each other.
- More commonly, people feel and show jealousy. Which then creates hurtful behaviour.
- In life, this eats up A LOT of energy, and causes bitterness and isolation in the jealous person.
In dancing, it’s pretty much the same.
- The thing is that dancing makes it hard to get away with this. Dancing demands your full mental and physical energy, and it needs the kind of openness and connection that can not easily exist in a hurtful mind.
- Realistically however, dancers are just people, are not perfecct, and can certainly be jealous and hurtful.
- The point is that hurtful or jealous feelings about others will distract you, which will ultimately limit your potential, and will eventually destroy your enjoyment of dancing.
- Some wise word from Baryshnikov: “I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.” – I think he did pretty well for himself with this in mind.
So in summary, it is probably not fair to ask which lesson is easier or harder in dancing than in life. It seems pretty clear that, dancing to the fullest means you must naturally follow all three. Dancing may actually be one of the best ways to clearly learn all three. This is yet another reason why dancing is awesome.