This article was initially supposed to be about giving tips on producing routines that are original. We analyzed videos of our favorite teams, hoping it would be enough to come up with items. It wasn’t. What we quickly learned was you can’t write a dance article on originality and expect someone to learn from it, because it wouldn’t be original anymore. It would be literally be a copy of what someone else was doing.

So we looked a little deeper, asking friends what they could tell us about their experiences, and what it really means to be a dancer today. We listened to stories of dancers both on and off teams, who only attend classes, who only compete, and who only exhibition (hah, that sounded a little inappropriate). We even talked to dancers who’ve never taken a class in their life, but will boogie down if they play her jam. (Shoutout to my Mama!)

Here’s what we pulled from the stories we heard. Traits that dancers learn on the field, and take out with them into the real world.

You’re Different. Embrace It, And They Will Too.

Any first time choreographer and incoming captain has to figure out really quickly how to follow in the footsteps of the person who came before them. The ones who fall short copied something they hoped would work for them. The ones who succeeded took the best lessons of their forefathers, trashed the bad ones, and did everything their own way. They followed in their own footsteps.

Instinct Is Real. Trust Yours.

Roosters crow when the sun comes up. (…This is our way of saying all animals have instincts.) Why shouldn’t it be the same for people? If God created instinct, it must be for a reason, and humans must also have it too.

If you’re a dancer, it’s NOT an accident that you love to dance. You were born that way. You may think that you took it up as a hobby, but really, it found you. When a choreographer chooses a song, it’s instinct. When your inner circle of directors chooses their set’s next theme, it’s instinct. That brilliant idea that comes as you draw out your formations using X’s and O’s, that’s instinct.

Make The Big Mistakes

If you want to be creative, you have to open yourself up to being wrong, period. The world is filled with things that someone else created, that we just keep recreating. Nothing changes until someone does something NEW. At The Bridge and T.M., we start a lot of our think tanks with this request: Think of the stupidest idea, and let’s try that one first.

That’s actually how we end up creating some of our best stuff. Some of our lowest times have been when we sold ourselves short and didn’t risk much. Those are the ones that really hurt.

When you’re a dancer you want to win, but if you fail, then you go out like a champ and you go down fighting.

Guts. Have some.

Everybody should a healthy level of grit in their belly. Everybody loses. EVERYBODY. And if they haven’t lost yet, they’re busy worrying about losing next time. Dancers lose quite regularly, and being tough is how we get through it.

When we lose a competition, guts is what picks us up and brushes us off. Guts is what slaps us in the face so we wake up, after 2 hours of sleep, rehearsals all week, and work/school in the morning. Guts is what’s keeping me up at 6:26AM finishing this article when I really should be asleep.

If it’s one commonality we’ve observed from ALL dancers, it’s that. We got grit for days.

The countdown to Bridge 2014 quickly approaches. For many it’s a time when these 4 skills get battle-tested. As a community we’ll be excited for our comrades and anxious about our own outcome. Hopefully some of us remember to take a moment and reflect on what we’ll accomplish that day. In a world of anonymous comments, thumbs-down dislikes, and nasty posts, we stand up like fighters in the arena. Olivia Pope has gladiators in suits. We’ve got gladiators in dope shoes, and Chachimomma pants.

What else do you think we as dancers have figured out about life through dancing? Share them by commenting below! 

Speaking of things learned through dance, check out all the valuable life skills we learn as dancers here