Dancers are an odd bunch.
It may not be obvious to everyone, but dancers typically tend to be a little different from the average person. I’m not just talking about having exceptional posture or the ability to put their hair in a bun at a moments notice. As a dancer goes through their daily life, there are some tendencies that come across as odd. By asking the dance majors at Belhaven University about their opinion on the matter, I was able to create a list of some of those unusual tendencies. If there are some quirky habits that I missed, please comment below!
(NOTE: This post is a bit longer than usual only because there are so many beautifully odd things about dancers).
- Finding ways to stretch in any situation. Case and point: we see a countertop, benches, or any flat surface as the perfect place to stretch out. Clara Grace said, “While shopping this Saturday, I stopped at a bench to stretch out my piriformis. I also preceded to explain what and why I was hiking my leg up on the back of the bench”. Always remember, if a dancer feels the need, they will proceed… to stretch.
- Cracking our hips (or any possible joint) in public. It sounds like we’re breaking, but it feels great. This may come as a shock to you as we’re in the grocery store and then crack our hips while browsing the cereal aisle. As stated previously, we feel the need. That need is due to tightness or tension in that area of the body that needs to be released. It’s actually very uncomfortable for that tension to left alone. This explains the sigh of relief after a dancer cracks their hips, neck, back, or any other joint in their body.
- The grocery store is our practice stage. Speaking of grocery stores, those empty aisles are just begging for a dancer to practice leaps and turns down them! Those floors are always just slippery enough to turn like we’ve always dreamed, yet possess enough traction for amazing leaps to take place. Plus, every dancer LOVES that an empty aisle means there’s actually space to leap to their heart’s content. Space, especially for tall dancers like myself, is a difficult thing to come by. Dancers are also taught to always seize every dancing opportunity. Therefore we dance!…even at Kroger.
- Words are not enough. Modern dance professor Dr Wright noted, “I tend to start spontaneously waving my arms about, which I’ve discovered that non-dancers find “unusual.”” I too have found that on occasion I will gesture with enthusiasm while talking. This is because dancing is not just for the studio, it’s for all of life’s situations. When in doubt, dance it out!
- We are obsessed with feet even though we beat up our own on a regular basis. Seriously though, dancers will be the first to notice a person with nice feet. We can’t help from commenting and saying, “You have such nice arches”! To tell you the truth, we get slightly frustrated with those people blessed with “perfect feet”. Carrie Grace mentioned that dancers, “analyze non-dancers feet and say that it’s a shame when they have good arches”, because they have no idea the gift they’ve been given (sigh).
- Bending down to pick something up without bending your knees or doing a penché whenever bending down to pick something up. Yes, we are aware that this does not look normal. However, as previously mentioned, a dancer must always find the opportunity to stretch and improve their flexibility. Plus, it takes more energy for us to bend our knees when picking something up off the floor. After dancing for hours on end, an exhausted dancer might not be able to pick themselves up off the ground, which is not a desired outcome.
- Dance talk is a foreign language. When talking about Russian dancers, ballet steps, summer intensives, and dance companies, it sounds like we’re speaking gibberish. I’ve gotten many blank stares when talking about a variety of dance topics. Probably the same expression I give Southern football fans when they talk about which college football team they root for. “Roll Tide” still makes no sense to me… but that’s alright.
- Being proud of bruises/marley burns – That’s right, we’re proud of them because those “battle scars” are the proof of our hard work! This is especially noticeable when dancers talk about their feet. Without shoes on, our feet are not the prettiest to look at. But each bruise and blister comes with a story. Stories are made of memories, and memories are beautiful.
- We don’t know how to stand or sit like normal people. Subconsciously we’ll find ourselves standing in first position. Natalya Watson explained that when she has to stand in place for a long period of time, she’ll start balancing on one leg subconsciously. I too have found this to be true. Every moment taken to practice balancing (even if it is subconscious) is a step towards our dancing dreams. Sitting like a “regular person” isn’t comfortable either. We may sit in odd ways so we can see our feet or bruises more easily (remember dancers are obsessed with them). When we do sit, we’d rather be sitting on the floor because stretching is easier this way. While we stretch we’ll be doing all sorts of things, from eating to doing homework. Some of us dancers have found the floor to be so comfortable that our friends have expressed concern for us.
- Walking turned out (which is NOT good for you!). Walking turned out happens because we work on it so much during ballet class. But walking turned out all the time is bad because it causes muscles in your legs to become underdeveloped. So stop it!
- And last but not least, having a bond with anyone who says they’re a dancer. Whether that be ballet, modern, swing dancing, jazz, ballroom, or you danced when you were younger, there is a bond all dancers share. A bond made from hours spent practicing steps and being lost in the music while expressing ourselves through movement. This is the beauty of dance and why dancers have accepted all the quirks that come along with it.