I recently got into an interesting discussion on Twitter with some other engineers regarding the parallels between dancing and engineering. I often get a surprised look from people when I tell them I used to be a professional dancer. Perhaps its because I look like a nerd, or perhaps its because I am one. In any case, its true and its something that I spent many years and countless hours doing.
The strange thing is really that it’s nothing different from engineering. Engineering is also something that I’ve spent many years and countless hours doing. In both cases, they started out mostly just for fun, and once you get good, you can make money off it. But that’s not what I really want to talk about either.
In dancing, there is “technique” and there is “feel”. To make money from dancing, you need to have technique. That means that you need to understand the basics of body movement, have strong fundamentals in the particular dance genre, and your body must be trained to imitate movements that you see someone else doing, usually quickly. Technique is something that you spend a lot of time in studios, rehearsals, and training to build up. You work with choreographers, work with other dancers, learn choreography, and get everyone synchronized. This is essential for productions such as concerts, recitals, musicals, film, etc. The majority of professional dancers have extremely strong technique and if you’re a choreographer, you generally look for dancers with strong technique because they’re easier to train for choreography.