Madison Vanderberg
March 25, 2016 3:05 pm
Fox Searchlight

The professional life of a dancer is a hard one to crack but that doesn’t mean that a former ballet dancer can’t excel in another career. In fact, I think former dancers are probably some of the hardest workers and most disciplined employees around.

Here are some of the ways being a ballet dancer sets you up in life with an incredible work ethic.

You understand the importance of body language

My ballet instructor always told us that when we were standing in class and listening to the teacher or awaiting instruction, we must NEVER cross our arms. She said this indicated that we were closed-off and unreceptive to criticism or conversation. The body language of crossed arms suggested you weren’t making yourself available to what the other person had to say. To this day, if I ever catch myself listening to someone speak and my arms start to cross, I immediately throw them to my sides.

You rarely complain

Ever seen a dancer’s feet? Ballet dancers create moving art while their feet and bodies are basically falling apart. Ask a dancer to carry something up the stairs. Or stand for long period of time. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dancer or former dancer do ANYTHING and complain about it. If you can balance on the top of your feet for a nearly two-hour ballet, you can run a mile in PE.

You have a “Can do!” attitude

Much like athletes who rally around their coach as if he’s delivering the word of God, that’s how dancers treat their instructors and ballet masters. When your instructor tells you that your alignment is off, it means your alignment is off. If there’s too much sway in your back, there’s too much sway in your back. There is very little room in ballet for “Well, I was just thinking that I don’t point my feet for the next 10 minutes, it that’s cool.” In the real world, this translates to a super “YES” attitude whenever your boss gives you a directive. “Yes, I will have those excel sheets in by tomorrow! Yes, I will start my shift at 5am! Yes, I will lengthen through my lower back in arabesque!”

You listen

In ballet class, most of the class is just listening. Listening to the instructor describe the warm-up. Listening to the instructor give you constructive criticism. Actually, while you are concentrating on the movement, athleticism and artistry of what you’re doing, you also have to make immediate changes as your instructor is shouting out directives while you’re dancing. A former dancer excels in customer service, especially. Making a coffee, taking an order, and listening to someone complain about how their drink isn’t hot enough is basically trying to do an across-the-floor while your teacher is screaming, “Tuck your pelvis!”

You’re dedicated and tireless

If you danced as a child and teen, most likely you went to school all day, then went to dance, then came home and worked on homework until you fell asleep. On the weekends you’d have performances, rehearsals or competition and probably sacrificed a lot of your social life for ballet. Now, as an adult, you probably have a day job and a side hustle and you somehow work and play and fit it all in because working on your craft from sun-up to sun-down is just what dancers DO!

You aspire to perfection

As a dancer, there is no point in which you will reach max levels of ballet-ness. You can’t just complete ballet like one can complete a task at work. You can always be better, you can always keep training, you can never stop achieving. Some call this perfectionism, but dancers just call this “being.”

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