Backstage Secrets

Dancing Lessons

In my experience as a rookie, the most questions I get are ones asking what my experience as a cheerleader is like compared to that of a professional dancer.

As a dancer, I’ve learned many things. I know to always point my toes, to stand up straight, to stretch through my port de bras, etc. However, of all the lessons learned, I find the most important ones were not those that tested me physically, but rather tested my character.

While there are many differences between cheering and dancing, there are lessons from my dancing career that apply to my new experience as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. A dancer’s life is not an easy one, but I am thankful everyday for the challenges it presented me, as dancing has made me the person I am today.

I’d like to share with you two of the most important things I have learned from dancing. I’m sure as you read this you will find that we Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders also live by these lessons and that our experience is not much different than that of a dancer.

Lesson One: A dancer never stops learning.

There is no ceiling, no cap to what you can learn and improve upon as a dancer. There is much to learn from everything and everyone. Teachers you love and admire can inspire you; while those that you dislike can often be your best teachers. Each person – student or instructor – has his or her own experience, and from those we can learn.

An open mind is crucial to being a good dancer. The moment we begin to believe that we have seen or learned it all is the moment we lose our validity as artists. True dancers never stop seeking new knowledge, experiences and inspiration. This is what makes dancers extraordinary people.

I have danced on many stages, but before DCC I had never danced on a football field. I could have let the field swallow me up. I could have walked away to go back under the lights of a stage, but I saw a challenge in this new experience. I worked to change the way I move so that I could become an effective member of the team.

I train and perform with 39 amazing and inspiring women from all over the country. Each one of us has different backgrounds, talents and experiences. Every day we learn from each other and challenge ourselves to be better cheerleaders and better individuals. Our learning curve never ends!

Lesson Two: You will always find someone who is better.

In the dance world, there will always be someone who is better. Please see Lesson One – this is why we must never stop learning. There is always someone more talented, prettier, thinner, etc. You will always find a dancer whose leg goes farther, who can turn more times, who jumps higher.

How does a dancer deal with this? How do we find our place in a world that never stops evolving and improving? How can we ever be good enough? The answer is to stop looking at the things you can’t do, comparatively to others. Look at what you CAN do. Find what makes you “you” and capitalize on it.

You are you, and there is no one else that can be that. Each of us is a product that can’t be duplicated. We DCC are not all the same. We have different looks and different talents. If we all tried to compete with each other by being the same thing, we would only tear each other apart. Instead, we strive to be the best version of ourselves and we admire the differences that make us individuals.

Be inspired by the talents others have. Let it invigorate your quest to continue being challenged. Dancers walk a fine line between appreciating what they have and still wanting more. We cheerleaders walk that same line.

By no means are these lessons easy to apply each and every day, but I am thankful for a lifelong career that has served as a constant reminder of what I have learned. And, I am thankful to the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders organization for continuing to provide that same challenge. As you can see, not many things in my career have changed!

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  • Comments

    1. Susan Normandin says:

      Very nice article, you have some great things to share!!

    2. Susan Normandin says:

      I really like what you said here, nicely done :)

    3. Anna Hiatt says:

      I am always inspired by the DCC auditions and pick up tips from the show. My dancing is just my hobby, but I love it! I love Jazz but HATE ballet! (It is so specific and requires exact form.) I still take ballet because it is essential to have these skills and is good for my body. When I get discouraged, I think of McKensey’s struggle with her kicks, and how she didn’t give up.

    4. Olivia,

      These are lessons that can apply to life as well as cheerleading & dancing!!! Thanks for sharing them . . . now show us those mad skills at Calendar Shoot & Auditions!!!!


    5. the dance was great Olivia thank you

    6. Sally Ritter says:

      Olivia, you are my favorite DCC because I admire your bravery. A job like yours must always be fraught with the pressure to conform to a standard of pro football dancer– bubbly with huge smile all the time. You have your own individual joyful way of fulfilling that role and it is SO GREAT to see you in action, in there with all the more usual cheerleaders. You are truly a living advocate for there being many ways to excel. Kudos to DCC management for valuing and showcasing a range of excellence– THAT is what makes DCCs the best.

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