Training for success

Jack of many trades

It’s eye-opening to read articles having to explain why dancers should study tap dancing, or why hip hop dancers should take ballet. Dance is dance, and it’s important to learn it all and not to question why, or ‘what will I need this for’? I will sit in this chair and pretend to chew food to weird, dissonant music, and I won’t ask ‘why’. This is what the choreographer said to do. (That actually happened!)

It is disheartening to teach a class of students that are there because they are required to be. They have to take tap to be in the company. They have to take 2 ballet classes a week to compete. This just doesn’t make sense to me. YOU GUYS! It’s DANCE! We are dancing! Afro-Cuban, Graham technique, waacking, butoh. I am in.

Jack-of-all-trades, master of none is not an accurate pairing, especially now. In the formative years, it’s so important to take in everything. Absorb it all. Be a master of many. It is truly possible. Robert A. Heinlein, considered the dean of science fiction writing, said “Specialization is for insects.” The versatile ones run the show. Steve Jobs was not the best programmer at Apple. He had a broad range of skills and could predict and innovate.

It’s possible to be a jack of many trades and pick one or two to pursue being an expert in. You can do both at the same time. The most important reason? It’s way more fun.

By Denise Caston-Clark

Hi! I'm Denise Caston-Clark, a professional dancer, choreographer and dance educator. I am a former Radio City Rockette and currently direct Tap Dance Detroit and the annual Motor City Tap Fest.

One reply on “Jack of many trades”

I am predominantly a ballroom dancer, but I study ballet, jazz and tap as well. They all make me a better ballroom dancer. Tap is my favorite extracurricular dance activity. My body through my feet becomes a percussion instrument.How cool is that? It has definitely improved my musicality on the ballroom dance floor. And besides that, it is just freeing, fun and makes me feel like a kid again!
Judith Spivey

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