Dear Dance Student: Words of Wisdom from an Older Dancer

BonBon Break

This post is a gift from me to you. In a past life, I was a dancer and these words resonate deep within my soul. But you do not need to be a dancer for these words to guide you through the rhythm of life.  These lessons resonate in our personal, professional and spiritual lives, helping us to both challenge and forgive ourselves, as well as to accept and affirm all that we are. 

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SYNDICATED from Mom’s New Stage by Keesha Beckford

Dear Dance Student: Words of Wisdom from an Older Dancer

Words of Wisdom from an Older Dancer by Keesha Beckford of Mom's New Stage

Amy Marshall

Treat class — and your every opportunity to dance– as a gift, as a special time for you.


Leave your emotional baggage outside.  Let class be your chance to think only about you.  Let it be your therapy.  Let it heal.


Listen to every correction given.  Try to implement it, even if it wasn’t given to you.


Take a correction to the endth degree.  Your teacher can always pull you back.


If you don’t understand the correction, ask.


A dance class is a lab.  Experiment continually.  Never do it the same way twice.


Even if doing so is outside your comfort zone, stand in the front sometimes.  Your teacher is only human. S/he may move students around, but if it seems you don’t want to be seen, you just might not be.


Don’t worry about her feet, her extension, how many turns he does or her natural alignment. Work with what you have.  Celebrate your gifts, while working your damndest to overcome any shortcomings.

Words of Wisdom from an Older Dancer by Keesha Beckford of Mom's New Stage

Sarah Cullen Fuller

There is only one you.  You can’t work to your fullest potential trying to be someone else.


Competition and knowing the strengths of other dancers is healthy, as long it is a motivating force, not a defeating one.



While there may be a few exceptions out there, every teacher has something to offer.  Never write anyone off because you don’t like her build, style, attire, body decoration, etc.



The dance world is maybe 2 degrees of separation. Always be diligent and respectful.  Word about bad behavior moves faster than a Balanchine petit allegro.


While your teacher should be respectful, s/he is not there to be your friend, but to make you a better dancer.


If you can find teachers whose class speaks to you, and where you are both complimented and thoughtfully corrected, you are very lucky indeed.


Words of Wisdom from an Older Dancer by Keesha Beckford of Mom's New Stage

Alexandra Beller

Believe that pushing through and learning something in that weird/boring/super challenging class will pay off.  In the New Dance Order of America these days, the versatile dancer – the one with a solid understanding of several techniques – gets the prize.


There will always be bad days.  Do not be defined by them.


Push yourself.  Hard.  But acknowledge when you have done all you can, at least for the time being. Sometimes the epiphany, the breakthrough, comes later.


Immediate gratification is rare.  When it happens it is the result of years of training. The fun and the joy are in the struggle.


Keep dance in perspective.  Know that you can still be a smart, loving, fantastic person with a great life even if one day you can’t buy a decent pirouette.


It is never too early to gain a firm grasp on somatic concepts.  If you wait too long to develop this beautiful mind, your body might be an unwilling partner.


Feats of nature — contortionesque flexibility, oodles of pirouettes, sky-high jumps are dazzling. But remember that dance is communication.  Dance is artistry.  Keep in mind the power and potential of small and simple movement.


Did I say to treat every chance to dance as a gift?

Words of Wisdom from an Older Dancer by Keesha Beckford of Mom's New Stage Photo Credit: Cheryl Mann

Dancer: Keesha Beckford
Photo Credit: Cheryl Mann


  Keesha Beckford is a former professional dancer who is currently a master dance teacher in the Chicago area. She blogs to keep her creative juices flowing, and to explore the question “How does she do it?” for herself and other moms in the arts. Read more at Mom’s New Stage.

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