Try writing down all the things you're grateful for—and realize there's even more than you thought! (Getty Images)

How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You a Better Dancer

Gratitude practice is an exercise that's as straightforward and simple as it sounds—and it can have a major positive impact on your dancing. Here, we break down the basics, benefits, and best ways of practicing gratitude—just in time for Thanksgiving.

What Is It?

Gratitude practice means taking a few moments to pause and reflect on something or someone you're grateful for—like stopping to smell the roses over the course of your day, and really appreciating their scent. Sound almost too simple? The science behind practicing gratitude speaks for itself. Multiple studies highlight its positive effects on mental and physical health

How Can It Help My Dancing?

Regularly practicing gratitude is linked to greater levels of enthusiasm and joy, better sleeping patterns, and even stronger immune systems—all crucial to help you through the long Nutcracker season. It's also been shown to help stave off feelings of bitterness and jealousy, which, let's be honest, many dancers experience on the reg.

But beyond that, actively attuning your mind to gratitude often leads to an entire shift in perspective—especially if you're battling an injury. Gratitude practice can help you focus on the positives of healing and rebuilding your strength, rather than feeling down throughout your recovery.

Where Do I Start?

There are tons of ways to implement gratitude practice, but it all starts with focusing your attention on the things you might take for granted. Each morning, spend a few minutes jotting down a list of things you're looking forward to that day: taking class from a teacher you admire, your first rehearsal for a big role, hanging out with your dance friends at the studio, or climbing into bed with Netflix and a face mask once it's all over. When you get home, do the same thing, this time reflecting on the things that happened during the day.

Practicing "exterior gratitude" (expressing your gratitude to others) is another great option—and it's in keeping with the spirit of the holiday season. Write your teacher a note to thank them for all that they do for your dance career, or post an Instagram captioned with your favorite things about your studio friends. Not only will it motivate them to make it through that final stretch of the season, but it might also inspire them to pay it forward, too.

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A Letter from the Editor in Chief

Hi, dance friends. It is a strange time to be a person in the world, and an especially strange time to be a dancer. As the dance community faces the coronavirus crisis, a lot of you are coping with closed studios, canceled performances and competitions, and a general sense of anxiety about how your world will look going forward.

Yes, dancers are super resilient, and there's been a lot of inspiring community-building happening. #LivingRoomDances and Instagram dance parties and virtual ballet classes with the pros are wonderful. Dance can, and should, be a bright spot in the darkness. But that weird, empty feeling you have? It might be grief. The loss of the certainty of daily class, the loss of the promise of that big end-of-year performance—that's real. The dance studio has always been a safe place; it's especially hard not to have that outlet now, when you need it most.

We're here for you. We—and our friends at Dance Magazine, Pointe, Dance Teacher, The Dance Edit, and Dance Business Weekly—are doing our best to document the hurdles facing the dance industry, and to advocate for dancers in need. We're developing more online content that will help you maintain and improve your technique while you're at home, and process the mental and emotional fallout of all this upheaval. (You can keep up with the latest stories here.) And we're still making our print magazine. We have issues planned and shot, full of great dance stories and beautiful photos. We're not going anywhere.

We want to hear from you. Talk to us. Or dance to us. Or both. We won't stop moving, and you shouldn't, either.


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