DD: The 6 Step Program
Dance has always been a huge part of my life. Training to become a professional dancer was like training for the Olympics, all the time. There really wasn’t much time for anything else. I’ve never had a “normal” job. The closest thing to a job I ever had was babysitting for our neighbors. Which I did a total of two whole times. Usually after school I’d run straight to ballet class and wouldn’t finish until late at night. By that time I’d be too tired and hungry to do anything besides eat and sleep. Sometimes I feel like I missed out on a few iconic childhood moments, but looking back at what experiences dance gave me instead, I don’t regret it at all.
When you start something so unique at such a young age and continue to pursue it as an adult you sometimes lose track of what’s “normal” and what’s really not. The life of a ballet dancer is a very short lived career. Regardless of injuries or not, it doesn’t last forever and a lot of dancers struggle with what to do after dance. Life after dance seems so far away, until you blink and you’re suddenly 15 years older trying to find a new career that’s equally as fulfilling. It’s hard because after so many years of doing something so special and so specific, you have no idea what it’s like to work in a more “conventional” work environment. That’s why I think there should be a “6 Step De-Dance Program” or “DD”. Six essential steps that help dancers integrate into the normal world.
Step 1. Admit that you were a dancer. If you can’t work the cash register at your new job that’s ok! You’ve been busy twirling around on your toes or lifting girls in the air. You probably don’t know how to count past 8. Just admit that you haven’t been to school in 100 years and therefore forgot all possible mathematical skills. No one will judge you. To your face.
Step 2. Recognize that you aren’t alone. There are plenty of other dancers out there just like you struggling to make it in the “real world”, expecting a round of applause every time they turn in an assignment on time*.
Step 3. Examining past errors with the help of a sponsor. Oh shit, sorry. That’s from another program…The next step is accepting the fact that you are not allowed to be naked in front of your work colleagues anymore. I know it took a while for you to get comfy enough in your skin to strip down in front of everyone for that quick costume change in the first place. Especially when you came to the company as a modest little apprentice. But now it’s time to retire your inner nudist and accept the life of a fully clothed “normal” human being.
Step 4. It’s not going to be ok to crack your hip while you’re talking to someone (see previous blog post titled “Snap, Crackle, Pop!”). Yea, none of that anymore. That’s considered weird and creepy and people might mistake the cracking noise for a fart and then you’d just be known as the office farter and no one would want to talk to you anymore.
Step 5. Accept the fact that you’re going to have to learn a new set of skills. Dropping into the splits is only appropriate before ballet class or as a cool party trick, not at job interviews. Vagina lifts are now a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen. The sooner you accept this the better off you’ll be.
Step 6. The final step. Always try to concentrate on the positives in life. You don’t have to shave your armpits as often! None of your work mates will (hopefully!) be touching them, so there’s no need to worry about your partner talking about how hairy and sweaty your armpits are behind your back. Isn’t that a relief? Just make sure to wear long sleeved shirts at all times and I’m telling you, you’ll have a mighty fine life after your ballet career. You’re welcome.
*We dancers applaud for everything and we constantly receive massive applause for our work from an audience. In class if someone does something well, we all applaud. If someone does something funny, we applaud. If someone does the combination alone, we clap with the beat of the music while that person is dancing. If someone falls (and they haven’t injured themselves) we will most likely applaud them on their clumsiness. Newsflash: in the real world no one is going to applaud you for doing your job. “Bravo! Let’s give a round of applause to Jenny who just sold a T-shirt to some random lady here at H&M. Standing ovation! She also sold some earrings!”