Becoming an alumnus of a dance team is not as easy as it sounds.
Parking lots. Tech time. 3 am eats. Bonding. Choreo days. Costumes. Circle ups. Competitions.
We have to bid farewell to these things that made up so much of our lives.
Whether it’s jumping into a demanding career, moving to a new city or parenting a newborn child, most of us will arrive to a point where (competitive) dance can no longer have a place in our lives.
After all, life isn’t an antiquated train track coasting through the flush countryside; it’s a windy mountain road strewn with unforeseeable turns.
We’re not only saying goodbye to those stressful casting days or late night parking lot practices.
We’re saying goodbye to a set of experiences deeply unique and meaningful to us.
The studio that was home to our growth and learning, the adrenaline felt on deck only moments before show time, and the long nights spent with loving teammates will all become memories of a distant past.
The crux of the pain is seeing our world of dance move on without us.
We’ll watch our old teammates form new bonds with rookies and it’ll be comparable to knowing an ex has found a new lover.
Competitions will serve as a bittersweet reminder of our glory days, making us out to feel like washed-up superheroes.
Soon enough we’ll be outdated, much so that the 2025 version of “twerking” will be too foreign to comprehend.
Granted that these are all hyperboles to prove a point, we can relate to an extent.
Here are thoughts from some of us who are already on the “other side”:
“Leaving the dance community was always an inevitable step that I knew had to take. It wasn’t until it actually happened that I realized how much of my identity was shaped by it. Artistic output declined as I was no longer ceaselessly repeating and creating 8-counts in my head while walking to class. Days were met with less mental challenge as I no longer had to juggle hell weeks, board meetings, and classes. It’s a bittersweet thing indeed, but I like to think that I was able to contribute even the slightest amount of legacy to the dance scene.”
“I had mixed emotions when I left. I was happy I accomplished so much [on the team] but I was scared to leave that part of me in the past. But I took the lessons I learned from 220 to further my growth outside of the competition scene.”
220 Second To None Alumnus
“…Dancing is an escape. The fact that you forget your stress, you’re in such a positive atmosphere that makes life more enjoyable. At least that’s how the teams I’ve been on have been. For me it’s not the stage I miss most. What I miss most is what true life’s treasure should be and that’s surrounding yourself with those you love and those who love you back. Family.”
Evolution Hip-hop, Natural St8, Hall of Fame Alumnus, Collective Faction Founder & Past Managing Director
“It’s sort of like a breakup- hard at first. But eventually, you allow yourself to explore outside that zone you’ve been comfortable in, and you give a chance for someone else to understand what being on a team means. So in the end, as bittersweet as it is, it’s an amazing feeling to know that others will come to share a part of my history.”
– Red Sese,
220 Second To None Alumus
How To Survive Becoming An Alumnus Of A Dance Team
As with any departures from the big things in life, however, there are ways to ease in the transition. Here are a few tips to cope with change.
Dance When You Can.
Just because you’re not competing anymore doesn’t mean you stop dancing altogether.
You can still fit dance somewhere.
See Related Article: How To Keep Dancing When You Work Full Time
That could mean freestyling every time you pass by a mirror.
Or that you continue to take classes at a studio near you.
You can go beyond that and join a project or exhibition team, which is usually less demanding than your average competitive team.
Not too far off from the old days, right?
Dance as much as you still possibly can.
See Related Article: How To Get Better At Dancing At Home
Find A New Passion.
When we leave from competing, we get a lot of our time back that was otherwise spent on rehearsing.
Use this recovered time to do other things you’ve been wanting to try.
This includes cooking, archery, rock climbing, yoga, other styles of dance, the list goes on.
Whatever you do, just don’t lay in bed and scroll through your phone.
You’ll probably see posts of your old team hanging out without you. That’ll hurt.
Give Back To The Dance Community.
Although you don’t compete anymore, you’re still part of the dance community.
See Related Article: How To Positively Contribute To The Dance Community
You can produce and edit other dancers’ videos, join in on the promotional efforts for workshops and competitions, visit your old dance team and meet new faces, etc.
There are many ways to give back and remain in the community.
Think about how to use your time, skills, and talents to help further its evolution.
See Related Video: The Evolution Of Our Global Dance Community
And Finally, Smile Because It Happened.
Be happy that our community is ever-evolving.
Be excited for the rookies who will experience the same good things you did.
The world we know is still here to stay – only we’re not playing center stage anymore.
At least we had our time. Smile because it happened.
See Related Article: Why You Will ALWAYS Be A Dancer, Even After You “Stop” Dancing
To close, I want to speak to those of you who are quickly approaching that point of making the decision. If you decide to keep dancing competitively when you start your next chapter in life, that’s absolutely fantastic.
But if you don’t… it’s okay. You won’t be alone on that decision. Many of us are already there.
So if you’re into your last few months with your team (I’m looking at you, collegiate team seniors), cherish your teammates.
Dance every second with them as if it’s your last.
And once it’s over, be glad that you went through with all of it.
Be glad that we, as dancers, experienced the things we did and performed the art we loved.
Nobody can take that away from us.
Does this article resonate with you because you’re a new alumni as well? Leave a comment below to share with us your thoughts on this matter!
Not being on a team doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy learning pieces anymore. In fact, STEEZY Studio is perfect for those who want to take classes on their own time. Sign up today to keep dance in your life!
This article was submitted by Benson Trenh and originally published on February 4, 2015. It has been edited by STEEZY.