An Open Letter to the Dancer Who's Moved On

You still walk with intention, you still mindlessly count the beats to your favorite songs, you’re still taken back by that one song on the radio that was ingrained into your soul after weeks on repeat—you still wince at the thought of having to let it all go.

It’s hard to turn the page on that “thing” throughout the years that has been both the source and release of your stress, your friend base and your greatest passion. You’ll forever remember the rush of holding your opening pose as your music jumped to life and the gratification at the end when the crowd jumped to its feet.  Dance has taught you so many things—dedication, time management, sportsmanship, perseveranceall that you will unconsciously take into the rest of your life. As you look back on those days, instead of focusing on all you are leaving behind, smile at the thought of all you have gained.

Take Saturday mornings at the gym, for example. As you and your team put on your shoes and made your way out onto the floor, ready to take on the days conditioning, something happened. No one talks about it, but it’s there—the bonding, the camaraderie. Then when you look at those people after you’ve finally succeeded, the same ones who were with you through all the practices, the ruthless days of summer camp, and countless more hours of preparation you get a feeling that you will always strive to recreate, that “those are my people” feeling. 

As you move forward into relationships with spouses, co-workers, and family you’ll know what it takes to get “that” feeling. It means being there for your people when they succeed, when they fail, and when they disappoint you, always lifting them back up because you know that when you’re there for each other through the trenches, you’ll come out stronger. 

Dance taught you that.

Take that high-stakes routine or competition where you watched your rival take home first-place again. You didn’t walk away. You clapped because you knew the work they put in, and you pushed yourself to put in the same amount next time. When there comes a point in life when you feel like you should have come out on top, or maybe that one co-worker you can’t stand got the promotion, you’ll know how to react. You will handle yourself with grace and class because you learned that pushing harder is the only way to overcome. Instead of allowing self-pity, you will wake up the next day and use those who have succeeded around you as a resource, and you will keep fighting your uphill battle because you know that giving up when you have people watching you, people depending on you, isn’t an option. 

Dance taught you that.

Take that critique you got over and over again on that one routine. “Your arm needs to go down about an inch,” or “Turn your head about half a second sooner.”  These details seem trivial to the untrained eye, but yours becomes trained. This is what prompted those hours spent looking into the mirror watching your body placement, humbly taking your coach’s criticism even when you didn’t want to hear it anymore. This is what will make you great. Not only will you be the hardest worker in the room, you will be the most concise. Your boss, your friends, your community will all know they can count on you because you don’t know how to cut corners. 

There are so many people who will be competing against you in life, but you will have an edge on them all. You will get it right, and you will do so the first time you are asked because you remember having deadlines. Except these deadlines weren’t like the ones in school that everyone had, these involved a brutally honest crowd, student body, and team reputation. Learning to work under this pressure made you cool-headed, and the stress of “getting it done” in the future will not rest on if you can, but how close to perfection it will be. 

Dance taught you that.

You may be leaving behind the costumes, the travels with your best friends, and rush of game day, but you’ll never leave behind what it all taught you. As you close this chapter of your life, look back on how far you’ve come. Dance made you a more dedicated, patient and motivated person.  These traits, among many, will guide your future success. 

Be grateful for all you have become and all the experiences you have had. Dance has given you tools that span far beyond the mirrored walls of the studio, so to the dancer who’s moved on—go build something great.

 Image Credit: 1, 2 (personal photo), 3