Everyone hits rough patches from time to time. Hearing inspirational words can be a moving and effective way to get refocused and re-motivated. In other cases, the words of iconic and legendary dancers and choreographers can broaden our horizons, spark our creativity, or just remind us that everyone has their struggles.
Here are some quotes on dance from some of the greatest to ever take the stage. Enjoy!
“…don’t let them take you over. Walk into the room knowing you are the best. Shoulders back, chin up. Their attitudes will totally change.” – Misty Copeland, first African-American prima ballerina at the American Ballet Theatre
“If you think you can do better, then do better. Don’t compete with anyone; just yourself.”
– Bob Fosse, Tony award-winning dancer and choreographer
“When a body moves, it’s the most revealing thing. Dance for me for a minute, and I’ll tell you who you are.” – Mikhail Baryshnikov, originally with the Mariinsky Ballet, joined the New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre after defecting.
“You dance love, and you dance joy, and you dance dreams.”
– Gene Kelly, actor and dancer, recipient of Kennedy Center Honor
“Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is the result of good work habits.
– Twyla Tharp, founder of Twyla Tharp Dance
“Dance is for everybody. I believe that the dance came from the people and that it should always be returned to the people.” – Alvin Ailey, founder Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre
“Freedom to a dancer means discipline. That is what technique is for – liberation.”
– Martha Graham, developer of the “Graham Technique” and the mother of American modern dance, founder of the Martha Graham Dance Company
“Success depends in a very large measure upon individual initiative and exertion and cannot be achieved except by dint of hard work.” – Anna Pavlova, early 20th-century Russian prima ballerina
“The higher up you go, the more mistakes you are allowed. Right at the top, if you make enough of them, it’s considered to be your style.” – Fred Astaire, dancer and actor from Hollywood’s Golden Age, often partnered with Hollywood star Ginger Rogers
“… there’s nothing damnable about being a strong woman. The world needs strong women.”
– Ginger Rogers
“Tap dancing is like a language; it’s like air…For me the importance in learning about the dance is using it as a voice. It’s not about a step, it’s about a way to express oneself.”
– Savion Glover, American tap dancing prodigy who’s been teaching tap since he was 14 years old.
“One of the things about working on stage – actually about working in show business, that is – is that it’s such a collaborative effort.”
– Gregory Hines, award-winning American actor and dancer
“Why are you stingy with yourselves? Why are you holding back? What are you saving for – another time? There are no other times. There is only now. Right now.”
– George Balanchine, choreographer and co-founder of New York City Ballet
“The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one’s work seriously and taking one’s self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous. – Margot Fonteyn, prima ballerina with the Royal Ballet and danced with Rudolf Nureyev, director and chief choreographer of the Paris Opera Ballet.
“For me, purity of movement wasn’t enough. I needed expression, more intensity, more mind.” – Rudolf Nureyev
“I did ballet, jazz, and flamenco from when I was five years old. I always work hard to find a way to disconnect from the thinking until it becomes second nature to me because that’s where you find the best moments. Dancing is like that for me all the time. It makes me feel free.” – Jennifer Lopez
“To live is to be musical, starting with the blood dancing in your veins. Everything has a rhythm. Do you feel your music?” – Michael Jackson
“A dancer, if she is great, can give to the people something that they can carry with them forever. They can never forget it, and it has changed them, though they may never know it.”
– Isadora Duncan, also known as the “Mother of Dance.”
“A violinist had a violin, a painter his palette. All I had was myself. I was the instrument that I must care for.” – Josephine Baker, iconic Jazz Age dancer, and headliner at the Folies Bergère cabaret in Paris
“The longer the ovation, the longer can I rest between dances during a performance.”
– Maya Plisetskaya, studied at the Bolshoi at 11, joined the company permanently in 1943, and becoming its lead ballerina in 1960.
“Enjoy the process of learning to dance. The process of our profession, and not of its final achievement, is the heart and soul of dance.”
– Jacques d’Amboise, 20th century principal dancer and choreographer with the New York City Ballet