Many studies speak about the health benefits of dancing. It maximizes cognitive function, muscle memory, balance, and coordination. It also wards off depression. Although there are positive benefits that come along with dancing, it’s a different story for people who are professional dancers.
Underneath the strength and beauty that professional dancers possess; is the stress that comes with being on the top of your game.
One enormous pressure for dancers is thinness. Dancing is a profession where the body is the primary instrument. Many dancers, especially females, go into companies not fully completed their puberty. When puberty hits, it can create a terrible string of events that can be detrimental to the performer’s career. Unfortunately, being curvy is not widely accepted in many dance companies, and that results in many dancers succumbing to eating disorders or smoking to get them back to their ideal weight before their hormones hit.
One way for dancers to move beyond the idea of thinness is by using the mirror as a tool for technique rather than an instrument to decrease waist size. Also, dancers can rid themselves of self-deprecating humor because it’s not helpful in the long run.
A second burden is feeling unmotivated. Dancing requires absolute commitment, and if a dancer is not giving it all, the choreographer or director will replace them. Individuals can decrease this trap by checking in with their goals and finding inspiration in other dancers or places. Furthermore, a dancer should check to see if there are buried issues at bay- a break may be in order to prevent burnout.
An injury is a mental obstacle as well as a physical obstacle for dancers. Missing performances as a result of an injury may be disheartening and returning to movements that caused the injury may be scary. Performers can deal with this stress by understanding that the fear is rational, setting achievable goals, giving themselves time to heal, and remembering that there is life outside of dance.
Last, financial instability adds to the anxiety that artists face. Many dance companies are not in a position where they can support salaried dancers for a long time. Also, dancers eventually will have to be off their feet since they cannot pursue their career forever as a result of age and injuries. To decrease this worry, dancers should learn how to budget their finances and think about alternative careers once their dance career is over.
Like many young girls, one of my dreams was to be a professional dancer. I quickly learned that being a dancer has expectations that someone of my height and weight would have to fight tooth and nail to overcome. Also, I realized that I did not have a strong of a passion for dance to knock those doors down. Despite that, I don’t regret giving up on that dream. I give kudos to people who give their heart out to dance and deal with the daily stresses.