(Submission by Ben Espiritu)

Are you a student-dancer?? MAD KUDOS TO YOU.

Because preparing for upcoming gigs and competitions is no easy feat in itself. Add in that #AcademicGrind and you get the ultimate struggle.

Have you ever had 30 pages of reading piled up, a group presentation to prepare for, and exams on exams.. with rehearsals every night?? No doubt a number of us have failed a quiz after a long night of dancing.

But as with all things in life, the struggle creates us.

The hardships that come with dance help us grow in all aspects of life, even in school.

1. Dance gives us a reason to go to school.

For dancers who are on school-based teams, dance gives you a reason to get to campus.

Sometimes it’s so hard having to drag yourself to that 7:30 AM accounting class you know you’re not going to understand.

But if you know that you have training to look forward to at the end of the day, that makes things so much more bearable – fun, even!

Rehearsal nights are ALWAYS the highlights of my school week. After a whole day of lectures, nothing’s better than getting down with your team.

And if you go to that same university, you’ve got your teammates to hang out with during school hours! Even cramming or pulling all-nighters is easier with good company around. Plus, you always have buddies around to grab lunch with.

So get out of bed, put on some Adidas soccer pants, nice sneakers, and rock your team shirt! Put your dance playlist on shuffle and head to class.

2. Dance teaches us to be consistent with studying.

When you’re performing a tiring 5+ minute set, you have to dole out your energy consistently. Getting tired and letting the performance quality drop is not an option!

And training to get to that performance-ready state also requires consistent effort. Going to rehearsals, taking class, strengthening your body, drilling the choreography…

The same thought can be applied to school. You’ve got to be consistent in your efforts with your academics, from the beginning of classes, to midterms, and to finals week.

A lot of us get excited about the academic year, but this excitement rarely sustains itself for more than a few weeks or months. So you have to renew your motivation from time to time.

It’s easy to slack off and and become complacent, with school or dance. But conditioning and practicing pays off – as is obvious on a stage, so staying consistent with school will prove its results on your GPA.

3. Dance pushes us to go FULL OUT.

Every opportunity to dance is 1 of 1. You’re only going to get one SpecificCompetitionNameHere2016 performance in your lifetime.

So we’re trained to give 100% in movements, extensions, hits, projection, and character.

We can have the same mentality with our academics.

For every quiz, project, or report thrown at you, you’ve got to give all of your ability. Part of the whole college experience is pushing your mental and physical capabilities to their limits.

Just like every opportunity to perform, you only have one chance to get a grade for that specific component. So go. FULL. OUT. Make the most of it!

4. Dance shows us to do things with love, for love.

Of all the things that can make a set great (cleanliness, intricate choreography, well-thought blocking and elements), it is love that gives performances so much more depth and meaning.

When the love for the people you’re dancing with pours out into your performance, you can bet that your set is going to be magical.

When we dance, especially when we’re part of a team, we don’t just dance for ourselves. We dance for the people we love:

For our team whom we’ve spent months or even years training with, for our families who’ve supported us through every late night arrival home, and for our friends who never fail to come out to our shows despite us never being able to hang out during competition season.

The best dancing comes out when we dance with love and intention. And the same can be applied to our academics.

Whenever you feel lazy or feel like giving up, think of the people who are important to you. Think of your team, and every amazing, fun, and memorable moment you spent with them. Think of your family and your friends.

And tell yourself to do your best for them – because they’ll always do their best for you.

Trust me when I say that doing so will always push you to work harder.

5. Dance teaches us to make sacrifices.

Why do we spend so much time and effort training? Why do we put up with all the sleepless nights, injuries, and constant frustrations to pursue what we do?

Some people (non-dancers, especially), don’t understand why we sacrifice so much for dance. When times get tough, we might even ask ourselves the same question.

But despite all the judgment and hardships we face, we continue.

Not out of obligation or duty, but out of love.

Nothing can ever replace the feeling of training after a long day. Nothing can compare with the feeling of connecting with your teammates in a run, and crying tears of joy alongside them right after. Nothing is quite like being swayed by music and breaking out into freestyle in a public place.

It’s all love. And being a student-dancer is a labor of love. If dance will teach us anything, it’s that we should do all things out of love and for the love.

Because when you act out of love, no sacrifice is too big to make.

So do the same for school. It might be difficult, but find a reason why you’re doing what you’re doing.

The course you’re studying might be hard as bricks, but if it always sparks your interest, go for it! Find something you love, and pursue it relentlessly.

6. Dance motivates us to keep growing.

Finally, dance teaches us to always pursue growth – a mindset that will help us become better versions of ourselves in anything and everything we do.

As dancers, we always push ourselves to improve and grow beyond our current capabilities. At the same time, we’re always taught to be humble and to keep working hard no matter what.

We’ve got to take classes, engage in jams, and put in the work if we want to grow into the best dancers we can be.

And you can apply the same line of thinking to your studies! Do your best, and push yourself to improve as a student. Never settle, and realize that the drive for progress (no matter how small) never stops.

Never be discouraged by failures and other frustrations too – they’re all part of the process of growth.

Everybody’s had the experience of not being able to keep up with choreography or messing up an oral presentation in class. Take these moments as they are, and use them as learning experiences. Analyze what went wrong, work on what you need to improve on, and come back stronger – every single time.

Everything is a learning experience. Embrace every moment you come across with open arms, and learn from it.

So student-dancers, LET’S KEEP AT IT! I give a huge salute to all of you out there who are simultaneously pursuing their dance dreams and scholarly ambitions. With all of these, I hope we can all push ourselves to be better students, dancers, and human beings.

May your training nights be productive and midterm exams manageable.

To more sleepless nights!

 

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