School is back in session, which includes all of its extracurricular activities: soccer, student council, and dance. When most people think about the word “team,” they typically associate it with sports, but what about the arts? Aside from taking weekly classes, dance is an excellent way to get involved in a team setting.
Being a part of a team can have a profound impact on a dancer’s life. Working together, collaborating, discipline, and learning new skills are tools to use in every part of life, whether a dancer pursues a career in the art, or not.
Most of the students here at The Colby Center for Dance and Performing Arts (C.C.D.P.A.) would definitely agree.
“I was a very shy, nervous kid, but dance has made me feel more confident,” reflects C.C.D.P.A. student Megan Jupp. “I have confidence in myself knowing that I started out as the shy, tall kid in the back to a more independent person on the stage.”
Jupp started dance at C.C.D.P.A. six years ago towards the end of middle school. She had no interest in being a part of the team when she first began. But after Jupp watched one team community performance (CDS) from the studio, she knew she had to sign up. “I thought that the dancing was so entertaining, and I thought to myself that that was something I would enjoy.”
Jupp is now a senior soloist on the studio’s competitive team (JCD), a student assistant for younger dancers, and taking as many classes as she can. “I wanted to improve my technique, and I liked performing in front of people. Being able to do more dance numbers with the JCD team in front of judges was so cool to me! Joining the team helped me grow my passion for dance even more.”
And that’s not all. Jupp continued to speak on what else she has learned through her time here as a JCD. “It’s taught me a lot about leadership, and how each individual person can come together as a team and do some magnificent things. If I wasn’t on this team, I would not be who I am today. I would probably still be that shy kid with no friends over there in the corner,” she laughs.
While Jupp took a path down the competition lane, there are other roads to take through the studio’s team: the CDS community performance group. Community involvement between all businesses is very important. That’s why C.C.D.P.A. gives dancers the opportunity to be a part of it. Dancers from 6.5 and up can come together for some very fun dance opportunities. That is why 8 year old and sixth year student Anneliese Mudd is going into her second year of CDS. “I love my friends on the dance team. I love the teachers, owners, and staff.”
As with any young student the simplest of questions can have such an immense answer: why do you love to dance? “I love to dance because it makes me feel at home,” she said thoughtfully. “Being on the CDS team is like family. It’s like having a second whole family!”
Mudd is homeschooled, which she loves, but being a part of a dance studio, a team, a class has given her a way to socialize, and have fun with kids her own age. “It makes her listen better. It makes her focus a lot more,” Anneliese’s mom, Mrs. Mudd states. “Anneliese is a little extra, and being on the CDS team reins her in a little bit. Now when she’s in a class with kids that are a lot younger than her, she’s trying to be a good role model for them.”
All of these skills like building confidence and leadership are helpful in school and in life. Joining a team and giving commitment to an extracurricular activity such as dance is beneficial even if you are not pursuing a career in it. “I want to be a scientist when I grow up,” Mudd said excitedly. “I want to be like Gabby from NCIS!”
Take it from Rachel Daniels a married mom of two kids with a very cool profession in clinical psychology. She works in behavioral health research in a hospital to identify ways to support families with children with type 1 diabetes. Some time ago, Daniels started out as a regular teenager looking to fill her extra time. So she turned to dance. Before C.C.D.P.A. was founded in 1997, Daniels began her dance studies at a local studio.
“I remember when Jennifer Colby came as a guest teacher. My very first memory was ‘who is this teacher coming in, and playing 80s music for ballet?’ Miss Jen had this way of identifying strengths of each person,” Daniels commented. “I remember what that felt like the very first time she did that for me.”
That moment was one of the reasons Daniels signed up immediately for C.C.D.P.A. in its opening year. Not only did she change her choice of studio, but also jumped straight into the JCD competition team. “I had been on other “teams” at other studios, and it was at the point where I wasn’t happy dancing anymore. Even though it was a pastime, it didn’t feel genuine, and that they weren’t invested in my training.”
Talking more with Daniels, she reflected on her time with the JCD team, and the life lessons that come along with it. A big part of the integral health research occupation is creating and writing research papers, and applying for grants. Who would have thought a lesson learned through dance would help in a hospital setting!
“The biggest skill I learned from the team that is applicable was the ability to both receive and give constructive criticism. The work I do can sometimes be lonely work since you are doing the majority by yourself, but you are also working as a team with others,” stated Daniels.
There are so many lessons to be learned from the dance classroom, and even more skills to add to your set by joining a team. Working together towards a common goal, learning to hear and receive feedback, becoming a leader, and generating self-discipline can be used throughout an entire lifetime. Creating and taking those new skills outside of the dance classroom can benefit everyone.
So whether dance is a fun pastime to make new friends, hang out with old ones, getting the fun kind of exercise, or even if dance becomes the focus of a career choice, plugging into the team aspect can have such a great influence on all parts of life.