I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t dancing. My earliest memories in life are literally of me dancing. Twirling around the kitchen pretending that I was a ballerina, doing cool moves like a fly girl from In Living Color or my favorite fantasy: trying out for So You Think You Can Dance.

My mother enrolled me in my first dance class when I was a preschooler. She said this was because I always loved to move to the music and shake my hips. She thought dance (simple ballet for 3-year-olds with short attention spans) would be the perfect activity for me because it would provide me with an opportunity to be physically active, build self-confidence, and of course a place to shake my hips in the appropriate place. Wise woman.

I am not sure when the exact moment was when I fell in love with dancing. My first class being ballet and throughout my youth, lyrical, jazz and hip-hop became my comfort zone. I felt that every muscle and nerve were connected and that my emotions could flow with each movement. True poetry in motion. When I dance, there is always a rush of self-confidence that I feel. The feeling is addicting. Even now that I am an adult, these emotions carry into my Zumba and MixxedFit classes. As I clumsily move through each class, I can’t help but have a smile across my face. I feel free and love that I get to express myself in a way that doesn’t require a computer or typing. I am in my happy place.

From the surface, dancing may seem to be just moving your body to a beat. Of course, it is, but dancing is also more than that. It is an individual art of expression through physical movement. Dancing is more than that. It gives some kids an outlet and the necessary framework to learn true teamwork, discipline, and perseverance. If you are considering dance classes for your child, do it they will learn these skills that will last them a lifetime, just like me.  Dancing is fantastic exercise, can build self-confidence that can last a lifetime and help kids to mature and grow emotionally. If you are considering getting your child into dance, do it.

The first and toughest lesson that I learned is the true value of teamwork.  Dancing may seem individual, but when you are on a team, each person matters. If one person is not aligned and out of sync, we all look crazy! The teamwork that I learned had carried over to every aspect of my life.  Professionally, I love to take on tasks that involve teamwork because I love what each person brings. Each piece unique, yet connected. Being open-minded and having a collaborative spirit goes a long way. Every dance team I have been on, there is always that ONE person who complains about everything. They don’t like the choreography, they hate the uniform/costume, they hate the music and the list goes on. Thank you, next! This type of energy I have learned takes away from the process and can suck the joy out of the room. Being around this personality type has given me tough skin when you are faced with a person who is a little dark cloud and defensive when it’s time to do some real teamwork. 

As a dancer, another lesson that I have learned that has benefitted me in life is how far discipline and perseverance can go. When learning a new technique, it can be very frustrating because it feels that your brain understands the choreography, but your muscles will do what they want. Discipline also looks like 6 am practice every day the week before a performance. Discipline is recording practices and watching yourself in order to clean up your move and to make any necessary tweaks. When the going gets tough, dig in and keep trying. Practice makes perfect. As an adult I have realized something very important—Discipline weighs ounces, regret weighs tons. Why put off what you can do today. Why not dig in and work harder to achieve your goals, its worth it. Dancing gave me this mindset and I am lucky.

Quinn Park a freelance writer and blogger from the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys writing about parenting/motherhood topics and her work has been featured on parenting sites such as Pinecone Café, SempreUK, and Swabbies.