Those who grew up in the competitive dance community will often complain about things that their non-dancer friends cannot even begin to understand. This is because the life of a competitive dancer is extremely immersive and demanding. In other words, comp dancers have this massive facet of their life, almost like another world, that most other kids have no idea about. The childhood memories of a competitive dancer are largely associated with their studio, because that's where they spent most of their time growing up.
There are some very unique struggles that dancers deal with, and retired dancers will remember them just as well. We promise that if you grew up as a dedicated, competitive dancer, you will relate to these 27 things:
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1. Having no social life outside the studio.
“I can’t, I have dance” was basically your catchphrase all throughout high school, which is why all of your best friends were from your studio.
Gif cred- Giphy
2. When you tell someone you're a dancer and they automatically assume you're a ballerina or a stripper.
"Oh you're a dancer, eh" I don't even know how people explained the world of contemporary before So You Think You Can Dance existed.
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3. Receiving disapproving stares when you and your fellow eight year old friends went to Kelsey's with fake eyelashes and Russian red lipstick.
The key is to wear your studio jacket that hopefully has "dance" written on it somewhere.
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4. You have nastier feet than all of your grandparents put together.
The harder the skin, the easier the fouetté. You'd take perfect turns over sandal privileges any day.
5. Your joints sound like gunshots when you crack them.
And when everyone looks at you -alarmed- you're smiling. Because that amazing feeling when you pop your hip is like no other.
6. Every open hallway is a stage.
You either oblige or fight the urge to jété all the way down. But the urge is definitely there.
7. You're sick of the patronizing "dance isn’t a sport” comments.
You’re right. Dance, in its rawest form, is not a sport. Sports require a game and competition element. Dance is an art. An art that requires more athleticism than every sport put together, I might add.
8. Your ability to change clothing quickly is astounding.
Thank you, quick changes. I can get from tutu, ballet tights, and low bun to fishnets, pleather, and high pony in FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, EIGHT.
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9. Improvising half your solo.
You forgot one part and then got too lost in your own world to pick it up. While your teacher is impressed with you, she's really hoping that one day you'll actually execute the choreography she spent hours carefully curating just for you.
10. Getting your period just in time for comp weekend.
Or, getting your period for the very first time when you're onstage. In your white lyrical costume.
11. Skinning your toe in a turn, and then doing another turn on said toe.
There is no pain so unique and exquisitely awful. Your dance bag probably contained 60-100 free floating bandaids.
12. Being sore in the most bizarre and un-relatable ways.
Even your physiotherapist doesn't understand how you managed to pull that muscle- an anecdote you'll tell your friends to explain just how creative your dance teacher is.
13. Adrenaline rushes through you whenever a former dance song comes on the radio.
You're trying to stay calm, but you'll tell at least every person in the room that this was your solo song last year, to which they'll respond "oh" or nod absently. No one understands or cares how important this song is to you and how deeply entwined it is with your life and identity, so you sit there doing the dance in your head.
Gif cred - Giphy
14. "One more time"
ie. a death sentence. The number "one" really lost its actual quantitative meaning thanks to dance, which is my weak excuse for as to why I failed math.
15. Having a large bin of random costumes and accessories.
You keep telling yourself that one year you'll be Oliver Twist or a Flight Attendant for Halloween, despite the fact that last time you dressed as either of those things you were 4 feet and 62 pounds.
16. Having to convince ourselves of authentic artistic intent before performing a routine about something we know nothing about.
How many times have you seen a 7 year old perform an emotional solo about losing a husband? I've seen it at least 400 times, and I gotta say, I'm impressed. Some of these girls manage real tears.
Although I was encouraged (forced), I could never pull off the pursed lips and occasional winks mandated in my performance of "Le Jazz Hot" when I was thirteen. Because I was thirteen. Sex was a very foreign concept to me, and believe it or not, tantalizing audiences just didn't feel natural.
17. Having to play the "game" where you restart the dance every time someone makes a mistake.
And then on the 14th run through, on the last count of eight of the song, you all think you’ve made it to the end of this torture…. GODDAMMIT STACEY
“From the top!”
18. When you’re counting down and you accidentally say 5,6,7,8 instead of 3,2,1.
19. If you were well-endowed, you wished you weren't.
Dance is the only place in life where big-boobed girls envy the mosquito bite squad. When costumes prohibit bras but you still really need one, you'll turn to creative solutions like duct tape and saran wrap. Yikes.
20. Missing one class and feeling like you missed the whole month.
Of course last week was a big choreo week, of course.
Photo cred - Best of Pictures
21. You can't explain any of your bruises.
In fact, you'd be more confused to find your legs bruise-less.
22. Knowing all the lyrics to songs from 50 years before your time.
Tap dancing down the hallway to Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, and having "ooo eee ooo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang" in your head at least once a week for as long as you can remember.
22. "Oh you're a dancer? Show me something"
Not on command, weirdo. Did you want me to plop into the splits right here right now?
23. Not being able to listen to a song for fun once you've danced to it.
Which sucks, because your hip-hop teacher always knew about the upcoming bangers months in advance, which means that you were already tired of Fetty Wap before anyone knew who he was.
24. Being punished for your height.
You hoped that with hard work, you'd combat the odds and land a spot on the front row. Sorry daddy long legs, the middle back of the pyramid is just where you belong.
Gif cred - Giphy
25. Watching yourself dance and cringing and/or crying.
It didn't feel like it looked like that.
26. Seeing a hideous costume be brought to life by rhinestones.
Dance Teacher: [reads negative facial reactions] "don't worry, we're still going to rhinestone it".
*Sighs of relief*
27. Having to perform for your family in a bra and underwear.
This one makes it bittersweet having a supportive dad. You don't get to choose your costume, but your grandma certainly thinks its up for debate.
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