Amy Marshall Photo: Lois Greenfield
1. Treat class, and your every opportunity to dance, as a gift, as a special time for you.
2. Leave your emotional baggage outside. Let class be your chance to think only about you. Let it be your therapy. Let it heal.
3. Listen to every correction given. Try to implement it, even if it wasn't given to you.
4. Take a correction to the nth degree. Your teacher can always pull you back.
5. If you don't understand the correction, ask.
6. A dance class is a lab. Experiment continually. Never do it the same way twice.
7. Even if doing so is outside your comfort zone, stand in the front sometimes. Your teacher is only human. She or he may move students around, but if it seems that you don't want to be seen, you just might not be.
8. Don't worry about her feet, her extension, how many turns he does or her natural alignment. Work with what you have. Celebrate your gifts, while working your damn-est to overcome any shortcomings.
9. There is only one you. You can't work to your fullest potential trying to be someone else.
10. Competition and knowing the strengths of other dancers is healthy, as long it is a motivating force, not a defeating one.
11. Know your history, and learn from the past. Don't dismiss the choreographers and techniques of the past as "old school." That movement was visionary for a reason, and it serves as a foundation for what interests us now.
12. While there may be a few exceptions out there, every teacher has something to offer. Never write anyone off because you don't like her build, style, attire, body decoration or manner.
13. The dance world is maybe two degrees of separation. Always be diligent and respectful. Word about bad behavior moves faster than a Balanchine petit allegro.
14. While your teacher should be respectful, she or he is not there to be your friend, but to make you a better dancer.
15. If you can find teachers whose class speaks to you, and where you are both complimented and thoughtfully corrected, you are very lucky indeed.
16. Believe that pushing through and learning something in that weird, boring or super-challenging class will pay off. In the New Dance Order of America these days, the versatile dancer -- the one with a solid understanding of several techniques -- gets the prize.
17. There will always be bad days. Do not be defined by them.
18. Push yourself. Hard. But acknowledge when you have done all you can, at least for the time being. Sometimes the epiphany, the breakthrough, comes later.
19. Immediate gratification is rare. When it happens it is the result of years of training. The fun and the joy are in the struggle.
20. Keep dance in perspective. Know that you can still be a smart, loving, fantastic person with a great life even if one day you can't buy a decent pirouette.
21. It is never too early to gain a firm grasp on somatic concepts. If you wait too long to develop this beautiful mind, your body might be an unwilling partner.
22. Feats of nature, contortion-esque flexibility, oodles of pirouettes and sky-high jumps are dazzling. But remember that dance is communication. Dance is artistry. Keep in mind the power and potential of small and simple movement.
23. Did I say to treat every chance to dance as a gift?