When I’m not gushing over typography design and hashtags at work or in rabbit holes with Instagram travel accounts, chances are, I’m dancing. Quick background: I started dancing when I was in high school, kind of a late bloomer in the dance world. Through YouTube videos, leaping through empty grocery aisles, and using my patio deck window as a mirror to learn to dance, I developed a passion for it, and continued the sport as a collegiate dancer. After college, I went onto dancing for the NLL, MLL, and the World Ski Championships. Now, I am so excited to add one more badge to my collection!
If there is one thing I believe, it is that hard work is rewarded. It may not be right away, it may not come in the form you expected, but in the end, working hard lends itself to a desired outcome. So…several weeks ago, I tried out to be an NBA Dancer.
To be completely honest, tryouts were intense, exhausting, and physically/emotionally/mentally draining. The amount of prep time, hours dedicated, and thoughts accumulated to what felt like a week-long marathon, and my mind and body kept racing nonstop. Through the process, I have taken note of some habits that have developed and realized that these are universal lessons to be applied to everyday life.
1. Embrace discomfort.
I took extra dance classes, and consequently, was taking studio classes with young and talented kids. I had a good decade on these teengers, and they were kicking my butt with flexibility, stamina, and the way their bodies could endure any choreography and technique thrown at them. During the tryout week, small groups were analyzed, improv choreography was tested, and showmanship was primed. The whole process forced me to be outside my comfort zone, and I have realized, it’s how we grow as people. Push yourself!
2. Take care of yourself.
Our bodies set the parameters for what we can achieve, and being healthy is the best gift we can give ourselves. Our physical, mental, and emotional well-being directly correlates with how we act, think, and live. Body aside, treat yourself! For interviews and training camp, we had to dress up and do our hair. Little things like that do not go unnoticed to people, and it was fun to pamper ourselves and get dressed up. Enabling ourselves to perform at our full capacity is the least we can do to make the most out of this wonderful thing called life 🙂
3. Be kind.
This is a mantra I live by, and it’s good for the soul. A cool thing about auditions was that all the women in the group were extremely supportive and encouraging. By being kind and accepting, I built relationships and trust during the process with the ladies auditioning with me. This fostered such a reassuring environment, and now they are my teammates. Be genuine, be you. In a day’s interaction, the guy in front of you ordering coffee could be your next boss. The lady who bumped into you at the grocery store could have a vital connection to a prospective employer. Someone you smile at could be your next best friend.
4. Never stop doing what you love.
Being in a practice atmosphere, dancing with people next to me, and being able to all work towards something, lit up this feeling inside of me. A feeling I like to describe as passion. Dedicating time to do something that tugs on your heartstrings is so fulfilling. As a dancer, it’s an underappreciated art in the grand scheme of things: the label of dance being a sport, the industry itself, the low-pay…etc. Despite it all, it’s a labor of love, and to feel that so deeply is a marvelous feeling. I hope you find something you are infatuated with and stick to it, no matter how hard. This propels you!
5. Stay true to who you are and believe.
Perhaps one of the most significant takeaways. In the unique setting of the audition atmosphere, the pressure is on to impress a panel of judges more than ever. With a short and dense amount of time to showcase, it’s tempting to play up a persona and force a personality for approval in return. In the case with tryouts, I reassured myself to just “do me”. In the interview process, abiding by this allowed me to answer genuinely and with honesty. It made things so much easier, and consequently, less stressful. I was able to effectively exude who I was to the judges, which you owe to yourself. Be you!
If someone were to come up to me a decade ago, and told my awkward, lanky, naive 8th grader self that I would be an NBA Dancer one day, I would not believe it, 100%. Five years ago, when I was dancing for CU, I still would’ve thought this was an intangible dream. Fast forward to today, I still can’t stop smiling, thinking about the moment my name was called when the director announced the team.
There is something to say about fighting for something you want, and achieving goals. Reaping the benefits of hard work is an incredible feeling. I am psyched to be on the court and to live out one of my dreams this season! Go for it, dreamers!
Ciao for now,