Dance has made me a more aware, hard-working, forgiving, humble, grateful, compassionate, confident, and patient person. It has made me a team-player and as a result, provided me with invaluable friends and mentors. It has given me an outlet to express my creativity and it has given me the dream of one day working with professional dancers.
What skills have you learned from participating in dance that have helped you in college?
One thing I’ve learned from dance that’s helping me now in college is to stay on top of things. If I forgot to review choreography for an upcoming performance, I wasn’t able to accomplish as much during rehearsal. If I didn’t spend my time wisely and get homework done throughout the week, I might be forced to skip dance class. I’m thankful I got this lesson early because college classes are no joke!
What do you miss most about studio life?
I miss Variations in so many ways, but I miss most the people I saw almost every day. Stacy, EJ, Tara, and other instructors poured into me by setting outstanding examples of how to lead well, by speaking encouragement and wisdom, and by giving me numerous opportunities to use my gifts. I enjoyed the camaraderie between the dancers in my age group, and I became close friends with a few that I know I’ll have in my life for a long time. We were all there for each other, and I loved being a part of that encouraging group. I also formed relationships with several younger dancers who I had the privilege of pouring into as well. I’m so looking forward to watching the young ones grow into beautiful people.
Another thing I’ve learned from dance is to fail gracefully when I do happen to fail. There were many moments in my time dancing that I did not meet my goals, but those moments taught me how to move past those setbacks and use them to improve. I haven’t “failed” anything major in college, but I have already made some mistakes, and I’m sure to make a few more. Because of dance I know how to have grace for myself and learn from those mistakes.
What was your favorite role to perform?
My favorite role to perform was Odette from Swan Lake. It was my first time performing with a partner, and I feel like the role of Odette challenged me to perform with more artistry.
What was your biggest hurdle while dancing?
The biggest dance hurdle I accomplished was fighting with extremely painful big toes. For years they would become unbearable after an hour or so on pointe, no matter what kind of padding I had in my pointe shoes. The constant pain held me back from dancing freely and focusing more on improving my technique. This was especially frustrating when it came time for performances and I wanted to dance my best on stage. My last year of dancing, right before Nutcracker, I finally found a way of padding my pointe shoes that eliminated the pain – and with makeup sponge wedges, imagine that.
To a younger dancer – don’t compare yourself to others and don’t expect to be perfect. Learn from your mistakes, learn from other’s strengths and weaknesses, and intentionally improve yourself. Don’t take your sphere of influence lightly. Act consistently with who the Lord is and what He desires, and thank Him through everything. Remember that your story is beautiful.
Emily is a 2005 Variations graduate and is currently studying kinesiology / pre-physical therapy at UAB.