A Dancer's Work Ethic for Success in High School
Entering high school can be a difficult and stressful transition for most of us. You will be facing pressure to succeed academically, new routines, and your social life will be changing and expanding. These changes can be invigorating as well as draining. It can be hard to see how you are going to continue your weekly dance classes with so many new things to juggle in your life.
Maintaining your passion for dance is incredibly enriching and beneficial for your high school years. What you learn in the dance studio can set you up incredibly well for a balanced, healthy and successful time at high school and beyond.
"Not every dancer will turn their love of the art form into a career, but every one of them will take the lessons they have learned in their training, choreography and their performances to improve the quality of their life."
One of the biggest challenges that comes with entering high school is learning how to manage your time. You might be starting to take more dance classes each week, entering competitions, and preparing for more rigorous dance exams as well as becoming more involved in school groups and after-school study sessions.
Keeping a timetable of your weekly commitments, maintaining regular eating and sleeping patterns, and planning enough time for work and play will keep you level-headed. It might be rocky at times but learning to strike this kind of work-life balance is a mature and beneficial skill to have early in life, and one that your peers might not develop to the same extent until they leave school.
High school is the time to consider – does dancing make me happy? If the answer is yes you will find a way to manage your time, and you will be stronger for it. Taking responsibility for your choices and actions so you can maintain your passion for dance can be incredibly rewarding.
You will already know that in the dance studio you are being taught to be present in your body and your mind at all times. You know how to focus – whether it be activating on your core muscles when you’re preparing yourself for barre work, learning a new exercise, or maintaining an awareness of where the other dancers are in the room. This ability to focus in on multiple things at once, to achieve one overall task – to dance to the best of your ability – is exactly the same kind of mindset that will help you achieve at school. If you’re sitting down to complete an essay, for example, you know how to hone in on your goals and take care and consideration with your work. You know how to reflect back on your choices and focus on achieving your best with what you have been taught.
An extensive amount of research has proven that physical activity is a highly beneficial way to take a break from studying. Dance has a positive effect on your mood and self-esteem. After a full day of school work, entering a dance class allows you to calm your mind, release your emotions, and shake-off the stress that might have been building up throughout the day. By the time class is over, the endorphins you’ve gained will leave you feeling refreshed and with a positive outlook. You’ll be sleeping better and waking up energised, ready to tackle whatever comes your way. Dance is a great habit for life.
Your dance training is great preparation for handling the pressures of school tests and test-week nerves. Whether your preparing for a dance exam, competition, or working hard on a new solo, you know that it takes careful preparation, collaboration with your teachers and peers, and a positive outlook to do your best, whether on stage or in the classroom. Practicing putting yourself outside of your comfort zone means you will ultimately be more comfortable (!) in these kinds of situations.
Dance is good for your brain! Neuroscientists have proven that dance is one the most effective tools for slowing down the ageing of your brain and improving the speed of your memory , which can only mean good things for your school work, like memorising mathematical formulas and retaining your research.
Every time you enter the dance studio, you are working to improve your technique. The ability to listen, understanding and implement the corrections that your teachers give you is the same learning style that you can use with your school work. The best way to achieve your goals is practice, practice, practice.
The best, and the most important thing, you’ll take away from your high school years is long-lasting friendships, the people who’ve seen you grow and helped you out when you needed it. At your dance school you’ll be surrounded by friends and teachers who know exactly the kind of things you are juggling, the goals you’re aiming for, and who want to see you follow your dreams - whatever they may be.
High school is a time of transformation, discovery and growth, no matter what direction you choose to take or which passions you choose to follow.
A love of dance is for life.
 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17461391.2014.969324  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/well/walk-stretch-or-dance-dancing-may-be-best-for-the-brain.html
Article written by Grace Finlayson
Grace is an Australian writer, editor and dance-lover based in Toronto
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