Guide for the Freshman Dance Major

  1. Your body is your instrument. You need it for your career, so you need to respect it and take care of it. If you are injured or sick, which will most likely occur at some point with all of the new changes in your life, allow yourself time to rest and heal so that you can get better and get back on your feet.
  2. Sleep. SLEEP. I cannot emphasize this enough. I know that college is exciting and you will have major fears of missing out on everyone’s 3am activities, but when you have 8am ballet the next morning, those 5 hours are just not going to cut it. One night of that is bad enough, but trying to do that week after week? You’ll crash. Get into a healthy sleeping pattern ASAP.
  3. Your food is your fuel. Say it with me. Your food is your fuel. You need it to dance, to perform, and to live. Don’t get caught up on what’s “good” and what’s “bad.” It is all doing the same thing: powering your body. Yes, some things are better for you than others, but that is where balance comes in. Foster a healthy relationship with food and stop feeling guilty for fueling your body.
  4. People always tell you how important “networking” and “building your network” is, but they don’t always tell you what that means. What you will come to realize is that your network is everyone you come into contact with, especially your friends. That’s why you should…
  5. Make friends of all shapes, sizes, ages, levels, techniques, and backgrounds. The person next to you at the bar could be choreographing on Broadway someday. Even if you’re not best friends for life, make sure they know you for your friendly face and positive attitude.
  6. Perform in class. No matter if it’s tendus in ballet, fortifications in modern, or 40 straight minutes of jacking in hip hop. STAY PRESENT and make people want to watch you, even if no one is watching. The people who are always performing are the ones that get noticed.
  7. You cannot attain perfection, so let go of that concept before you even step into your first class. You can work towards perfection, but just know that there are always new ways to improve and to explore in your own body and in the field of dance.
  8. Understand that when your teacher gives you a correction, or seems to “pick on” you, it does not mean you are always doing something wrong or they have something against you. In fact, it means two very different things. 1) Your teacher is watching and paying attention to you, and 2) He or she believes in you and knows you can do even better.
  9. Strive to never receive the same correction twice. Once you are given a correction, apply it and get ready to work on the next one.
  10. The only way to fail is to stop trying. No matter how many times you mess up, if you keep trying, you will get the results you’re looking for.
  11. Go to every possible audition for every possible thing within the dance department. If you hear about an audition that same day and are completely unprepared, go anyway. Show them your talent and passion and drive and who knows, you might be exactly what they were looking for.
  12. On that same note, don’t be afraid to show your heart. That is what really makes a dancer. Anyone can learn to do 15 pirouettes (ok, not everyone) but if those 15 pirouettes don’t make the audience feel something, then you’ve lost the point of dance entirely. Show them what you have inside of you and let it shine, so that by the time the audience walks out, they’re changed from when they walked in.
  13. Don’t ever let fear keep you from trying new things and expanding your horizons. If you’ve never taken African and the idea terrifies you, take it. Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.
  14. You define what “success” is for yourself. If you always give it everything you’ve got, mentally and physically, you will always be succeeding, even if it’s just in small ways. Acknowledge those moments and give yourself credit for each and every one.
  15. The only person you should ever try to be “better than” is the dancer you were yesterday.
  16. Find your voice as a dancer. It may not happen in your first semester, or year, or even your entire time at college, but always continue to explore yourself and your body and how you can give your gift to the world. That, my friend, is what dance is all about.

 

-Caty Healy

1st Year B.F.A.

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