Five Keys to a Life in Dance

It's natural to feel a little anxious about the future. You never know where life will take you; and for you graduating—or even rising—seniors, those feelings can get pretty overwhelming right around now.

But you're not alone. Even the pros have been in your place.

This spring, George Mason University hosted the American College Dance Festival Association's Mid-Atlantic regional conference. In addition to the many master classes, rehearsals, and performances of the weekend, the highlight was the "Life in Dance" panel, where students heard from a number of dance luminaries—including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's artistic director Robert Battle, choreographer Kyle Abraham, and renowned dance critic Deborah Jowitt.

"As a student trying to make it in a highly competitive field, I'm worried about my future," said sophomore dance major Meredith Hermann. "But it was so inspiring to hear them say that when they were in our positions, they didn't know what was ahead of them either. They couldn't imagine it."

To help you get through these nerve-wracking times, Dance Spirit got the pros' five most inspiring quotes:

Robert Battle with members of AAADT.
Photo by Andrew Eccles

"One of the most important virtues you'll need is courage. And no matter where your journey takes you, bring that courage with you. Be open to adventure and don't be afraid of the dark." —Robert Battle

"You have to find your sense of humor. You have to find your tenacity. And remember that even on the worst days, it will get better." —Ashley Wheater, artistic director of the Joffrey Ballet

"Life takes you on its journey, and as long you have an idea of what interests you and what you love, you will be OK. You will make the right choices. Luck is a big part of it—but self determination is an even bigger part."

—Elisa Monte, director of Elisa Monte Dance

Elizabeth Parkinson and Keith Roberts in Twyla Tharp's Movin' Out. Photo by Richard Termine/CTFD

"Always have the spirit of, 'Let me see what this is.' Or, 'Could I be a part of it?' The key is staying open to new things."

—Elizabeth Parkinson, co-director of FineLine Theatre Arts

"I made my way from a girl to the dancer I am now through a series of accidents, coincidences, and surprises. You can't count on anything. I had a life I never could have anticipated, but it worked out alright—and I hope yours will too." —Deborah Jowitt

Interested in attending ACDFA's National College Dance Festival? It's June 4–7, 2014 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Click here for more info and a schedule of events.

(Quotes compiled by GMU junior dance major Nicole Montano.)

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