Life Lessons from Dance: The Show Must Go On

Growing up as the daughter of a dance teacher has taught me so much more that just shuffles and plies. I’ve learned balance, focus, manners, perseverance. I’ve learned the importance of thank yous, the extra mile, and tradition. I’ve learned to accept critiques and to take orders.
It’s time to chronicle these lessons.

The show must go on.

Everyone who has been onstage knows this simple maxim.

My mom begins training her dancers from the age of three with an increasingly hilarious set of questions:
“What do you do if the music stops?”
The chorus replies, “Keep dancing!”
“What do you do if your shoe falls off?”
“Keep dancing!”
“What do you do if the girl next to you runs off stage?”
“Keep dancing!”
“What do you do if you lose a shoe bow?”
“Keep dancing!”
“What do you do if the whole front row stands up and waves?”
“Keep dancing!”
“What do you do if Mr. Jeff runs onstage?”
Keep dancing?”

No matter what, you keep going.

A few weeks ago, we took the competition team to the east coast. In the middle of their big routine with feathers and colors and smiles and tricks, K’s hat fell down into her eyes. She kept dancing.
After the competition finished (and trophies had been gathered), we stopped to talk to K’s mother. My mom told her how proud she was. She said, “Years ago, that would have completely finished K off. Tonight, she just smiled and kept on going. What remarkable growth.”

Now, the life lesson I’ve gathered is not to keep working when your jeans rip down the middle. (It’s really okay to go fix that first.)
It’s this: when you are pressing on towards something big, don’t let the little things that go wrong stop you.

When you’re trying to make the audition, don’t let someone’s careless words tear you down. She’s probably never put on tap shoes.
When you really want to be Anne Frank in the play, don’t try to back out of the audition because you think the practice schedule might not work. They might change it for you.
When you’re aiming for that A in O. Chem, don’t give up when you see the 70 on your first test. Just work harder.
When you forget the simplest concepts in your thesis presentation, finish it out. They might not have noticed.
When your new friend annoys you by telling that same story just one too many times, hang in there. She may become your best friend.

Don’t stop. The show must go on.

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