The Power of Dance

I started taking dance lessons when I was three years old.

My classes were a mix of ballet, tap and jazz. Never a fan of ballet, I was happy when I got older and could focus on jazz and tap. (I’m small, but I’m not overly dainty.)

By the time I was in high school, I had at least four routines in the annual recital. I can only imagine how much my parents spent on dance costumes over the years.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any old dance recital pictures. They are all in my parents' basement!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any old dance recital pictures. They are all in my parents’ basement!

While I attempted to continue dancing in college, my double major and social life got in the way.

Sometimes I wonder if I should have made more of an effort to find time to dance.

Still, fifteen solid years of dance left me with more than I ever expected when I first put on a leotard.

Self-confidence. Discipline. Balance. Leadership.

I didn’t know it at the time, but dancing helped me get through the toughest years of growing up.

When I was on stage, I was in control. Confident. Happy. Able to conquer the world.

I guess that’s why I seek out work that puts me in front of people, whether it’s in a speaking role or as a writer.

Last Friday, my husband and I saw Dreamgirls at the Maine State Music Theatre. Each time I see a performance, I am reminded of the power of song and dance and the emotion that comes out of a good story told by talented and creative people.

At several points during the show, I got goosebumps. At one point, I was almost brought to tears by the powerful singing.

maine state music theatre

This month, as part of my Giving Pledge, I am donating to the Maine State Music Theatre. I am fortunate to live within walking distance to a venue that hosts such amazing performers. Performers who have been on Broadway, yet still manage to make it to Maine to share their talents.

My husband, who I’m still trying to convert to a full-fledged musical theatre fan, gave me season tickets to MSMT for Christmas. Last week’s performance inspired me to give a little extra.

I’d hate to live in a world where music, dance, art and creativity isn’t a regular part of my life. Dancing has given so much to me. This month, I’m attempting to give a little back.

How have the arts changed your life?

Are you willing to take the giving pledge and donate every month to a nonprofit? Grab the badge below and tell the world.
another jennifer giving pledge

photo by: pawpaw67
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  1. says

    I think every kid needs to have dance or something that gives them that feeling of confidence yet discipline and self control at the same time. I was a theater geek in High School and college and it gave me what dance gave you. I’m so grateful for that experience.
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  2. says

    This made me tear up. I didn’t dance, but Lucy has danced since she was 3.

    In fact, at her studio they have summer drop in classes for the different levels and she went to her first last night. As we left she said, “Thanks for taking me. The summer is sad without dance. ” It struck me how much it means to her. She just LOVES it. It’s great exercise and fun…but it also speaks to her soul as artistic expression, too, even at her age.

    I hope it’s in her life, in some form, forever. –Lisa
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  3. says

    Tears, and it’s not even 8:30 AM!

    I’m in the same boat, I have 16 years of (hardcore) ballet training under my belt and was at one point on the fast track to a professional career. I realized that I would start to hate dance if it became my entire life and opted for the typical university education instead. And thank god I did that! Ballet is now something cherished and extremely personal to me. I still dance once a week and it is my way to stay sane and take some time to myself. But EVERY time I see a performance of any kind, I want to be up on stage again. Dance has absolutely shaped me into who I am today just like you said: “Self-confidence. Discipline. Balance. Leadership.” It is an amazing thing.
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  4. says

    I get goosebumps from dance. Always. It’s the power of music and dance and beauty. So good. I danced a bit as a kid but I wasn’t any good like my two sisters. I think I just lost interest. I’m very glad to have had a foundation of it for several years. My daughter is almost four and I’m panicking as if we’re too late. She NEEDS dance. She feels it SO much. I want to catch her now when she dances in public with her eyes closed without a care in the world. That stuff..can fade.
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  5. says

    YES YES YES!!!! dance, art, music… all the arts are so healing and so critical to our growth, development and expression and self worth in many many ways. I was a dancer too, and a musician… and tried art! As you know I was a music therapist in psychiatric care for twenty years and saw firsthand the power of the arts in healing… What a beautiful reminder and message of all that the arts can do for each and every one of us! I love that you shared this and your ability to see where you need to use your voice. LOVE!!!
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  6. says

    I was a dancer as a little girl as well. I wasn’t graceful at all so I moved on to drama and loved it. There is something to be said about the theatre! My niece is an avid performer since she was 4 years old. Now she graduated highschool in top 7 of her senior class with accolades in dance and drama and she’s off to Alabama and then to med school. My sister and I think her dancing and acting had a lot to do with how successful she’s been. The discipline, the dedication, the perseverance, just amazing.
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    • says

      Like Michelle said above, sometimes playing a team sport can work just as well. I remember being unsure about dancing at first, but then I got to know my fellow classmates and started to love the stage. Glad I stuck with it!

  7. says

    I never was a dancer – but music often moves me to tears. It just speaks directly to the soul. I do agree kids need to find something that are passionate about – something that teachers them about hard work, commitment, and discipline. Glad that you had dance!
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  8. says

    I absolutely love watching how dance is giving my daughter confidence and joy. I LOVE the arts. I was raised in a very musical, artsy family. Everyone on both sides of the family either performed in family (local theater) musicals or played an instrument. I have two cousins who are professional musicians. My father’s mother was a music and English teacher, my mother’s mother a singer and local actress. I played the piano, then learned flute and played that through middle, high school, and college. Some of my BEST memories are of band and orchestra events. My District Orchestra even played in Carnegie Hall when I was 16. A-MA-ZING!!!

    We watched musicals as a family. Gosh Rogers and Hammerstein knew how to do it right!

    So yes, I love the arts. I know exactly what you mean about the emotions good singing, good orchestral numbers, good dancing – evoke. It’s amazing.

    Thank you for helping keep this often overlooked yet so very magical art of performance alive! I’m glad we have something else in common as well! :-)
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    • says

      That is so cool, Alexa! What a wonderfully creative family you have. I hate it when I see the arts being cut in schools these days. I fear we’ve lost true appreciation for performance as a whole. I hope not!

  9. says

    Oh boy, your story sounds familiar! I was a hardcore dancer, as well…ballet (I still have those bloodied toe shoes in the attic), kickline at school…I loved it and it defined me for many, many years. I didn’t realize how much I missed it, until my own kids started performing. It’s amazing to watch them sing and dance on stage and it prompted me to take up dance again! You should do it…I think you’d love it. I really look forward to each week! It’s almost like I got a little piece of me back, that I thought was long gone…
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