There is a reason why at least three TikTok dances live rent-free in your mind or why your friends move their bodies when they hear a good beat – even without. Dance is infectious. It is universally a uniting force. And to be a dancer is to know yourself, your body, and move with that power. It is the ultimate confidence booster and the most fulfilling sport. The transition from athlete to dancer is a simple and powerful one since they are so similar. By the age of 14, 80% of women hang up their soccer cleats and basketballs in exchange for pom-poms, cheer skirts, and ballet shoes. The reason why varies for each girl; however, it was the sense of sisterhood and outfits for me. Yes, it takes athleticism to have knees like Megan or dance to every song on your setlist, like Beyoncé in concert. Like other sports, dance requires practice, skill, and discipline. Yet, the form has so much more to offer.
Dancers Are Athletes Too
As a kid, I was part of a rhythmic gymnastics team. Where gymnasts perform with an apparatus: hoop, ball, clubs, ribbon, or rope. The sport combines more dance and flexibility than artistic gymnastics. Being a part of a team made me feel a sense of importance. We traveled around and competed. And as a little girl, I loved dressing up. The costumes were custom-made with rhinestones, sequence, vibrant colors, and Swarovski crystals if we felt like being fancy. My hairstyle of choice was two high buns. I would only get colored lip gloss as makeup because you had to draw the line somewhere.
We would work with our coaches to create routines and work on tricks that would start off looking rough, but with practice, worked out. The progression built our confidence to try even more challenging stunts. From a single pirouette to triple or cartwheels to front walkovers – there was always room to improve. Once you got it perfected, nothing felt better than to stand on the podium and hear your name called for first, second, or third place. Most sports can be very rigid, with a lot of rules and goals. You either win or lose the competition. Over time, that pressure can take away from your overall enjoyment. Dancing incorporates so many different elements to enjoy.
Confidence in Dance
One of the best things my parents did for me as a child was enroll me in extracurricular activities. A child of the performing arts scene, I grew up being driven back and forth from the public library, from track practice to the dance studio, to a string ensemble. All while doodling in the back seat. All of the arts programs developed different skills aiding in my personal development. The dancing, however, stuck. It grew my confidence the most as a child and continues to do so in my adulthood.
It creates a space where many can tap into different parts of their being that they don’t usually express. I still remember my first dance teacher’s name (shoutout Ms. Nicely) and our first homework assignment. It was to find a body of water and run your hands over the surface to see how soft and fluid your hands should look when dancing. I took it so seriously, went home, filled the sink with water, and waved my hands. Then, I looked in the mirror and imagined I was like my teacher: prim, poised, and the picture of confidence. Even the dancers I would see before my beginner ballet. Legs long and head high as the buns fixed on their heads. I was always an introverted person and, in my youth, possibly more than an introvert. Yet, in that space, I saw and felt another way to be.
Hip hop styles like krumping and breaking channels bravado and intricacy. Styles like vogue femme and pole dancing help some embrace their sexuality. I discovered the ballroom scene in high school via YouTube. I saw clips of balls called ‘Vogue Nights’ where I became familiar with names like Danielle “Ninja” Polanco and Leiomy “WonderWoman” Maldonado. They had the same technique and movement as dancers I was familiar with, but the energy was amplified. When you vogue, there is no other option but to feel like that girl. The combination of dramatics, sensuality, and contortion in the movements is incomparable to any other style.
To this day, that is what moves me in dance—the community and energy. You can build your self-esteem outside of yourself, like in the way you interact with others. You can build community in your dance crews and classes. Seeing how your peers hype you up based on your creative choices is reaffirming. It makes you trust your thoughts and ideas, allowing you to second guess yourself a little less. The energy you feel when the room is chanting for you. And the movements you thought of travel from your head to your limbs in the seconds it took for the next beat to drop. The energy that can turn an introvert into the center of attention for a few minutes.
Dance gives you that boost of confidence, but it is not undeserved, and when you win a competition, or a battle, or land that new stunt, it is because you worked for it. You were vulnerable enough to fail and strong enough to try it again.
To find out more about dancing, check out our Twitter thread to view Nike’s official video and click here to view other cool ways to try something new. Follow MEFeater on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest for more updates!