Dancing shoes

AUTHOR Anne T Donahue
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The 10 Steps of Realizing You’ll Never Make It As A Dancer


If you watched this year’s VMAs, you saw Beyoncé do what Beyoncé does best: everything. She does everything best. But what she does she do even better than that? Dance. None of us will ever dance as well as she does.

And I know what you’re thinking: “But I can!” Maybe, if you’re a professional dancer reading this piece, maybe you can. Maybe. But if you’re like the rest of us, then I’m sorry: you and I will never, ever dance professionally. It’s just not who we are.

But to realize that takes time and more than just a snap decision.  Here are the 10 steps of realizing you will never make it as a professional dancer, and simply to live vicariously through those who are.


1. You think, “I could never do that”

Fear. It’s what separates those who can and those who cannot. And in the case of dancing, fear is what will stop you from doing literally anything you see onstage. If your first thought upon seeing Center Stage was, “Oh wow I could never do that” it’s the same as me watching Nicki Minaj rap: I know I cannot, so I will not. Why? Because it will be horrible for everybody around me, and I will likely hurt myself.


2. You think about dance classes, and you get tired

And I don’t mean you get tired thinking about the workout you’ll have in dance class – I mean you get tired thinking about signing up for the physical class. As in: the idea of standing, getting into your car or onto the tube seems like way too much effort for something you’ll probably skip regularly, anyway. And honestly, that bag of crisps is right there and right now unlike the dance studio, which is all the way next-door.


3. Trying a move goes badly and you want to quit immediately

When I was 14, my best friend and I tried out for cheerleading and didn’t make the first cut because every time we made a mistake, I cursed loudly, or she just stopped and refused to keep trying. It’s this attitude that makes up step three of “it’s time to accept you’ll never dance professionally.”


4. You refuse to spend money on dance equipment

“Dance equipment?” you’re currently thinking. “Like, what . . . shoes?” Yes, shoes! Do you know how expensive those are? Have you seen outfits worn by professional dancers? Here’s a word to describe what they are not: cheap. More specifically, they are very expensive. So expensive that you will absolutely be forced to prioritize dancing over everything else. Even eating, probably. (I don’t know because I only ever made it to step two.)


5. You only want to learn dances you’ve seen in movies

Because apparently you have to learn “the basics” before you can “launch into everything you’ve ever seen in Save the Last Dance.” Also, apparently arguing with the instructor about this is “a waste of time, Anne, and if you do this again I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”


6. You think Julia Stiles’ Save the Last Dance is legitimate art

But what do they know? You remember the scene: in an attempt to win Julliard judges’ hearts, Julia Stiles performs a mash-up of ballet and dance moves she was taught to in an abandoned classroom nobody ever seemed to check on. And at age 15, we all absolutely thought this was real. If you still think this is real, the way I do, then no: a life of dancing professionally isn’t yours. However, if you think the routines in Take the Lead are legitimate art, then you are correct and teach me, professional dancer.


7. You perform the Save the Last Dance routine in hopes of getting into dance school

Okay, but what did I just say.


8. After a night of actual dancing, you don’t move for the next 14 days

Dancers are fit, and healthy, and limber, and able to do things most of us only daydream about (when thinking about winning that guy over through dance like any heroine in any teen film because those are real and true). Enter: dancing at any point, anywhere, ever, for an extended period of time and the subsequent pain that follows. Full stop: after the Jay Z and Beyoncé concert, I couldn’t walk up the stairs for two days. And while I still think that if she’d seen me I totally would’ve gotten a gig as her favourite dancer, my thighs were saying, “Please never use us again – and also, we hate you.” Unlike real dancers, who can touch their toes without crying.


9. You consider yourself a “natural dancer”

I don’t even know what that term means, but up until high school I was convinced that if a casting agent ever saw me dancing to the Spice Girls, I’d be branded “the next Judy Garland” and begin a career as a triple-threat. Practicing and actually going to dance classes wasn’t – and still isn’t – an option. “Natural dancing” is, I think, what we see the kids do in The Breakfast Club. And none of them are on world tour right now, nor are any of them professional dancers.


10. You related to even one of these points

The nail in the coffin. The white flag. The last hurrah. I’m sorry, but if this article spoke to you, you’re just like I am: not a professional dancer. (Yet.) (Don’t tell anyone, but we’ll never give up.)

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