McClure’s Moments | Inside Dance

McClure’s Moments | Inside Dance

Inside Dance Ambassador McClure Thornton on Studio Life, the Competition Circuit & Memorable Moments

“My favorite part about being a studio and competitive dancer! Some of my very best friends, who I don’t even go to school with, are girls from my studio. They are like family for sure!”

As I get older, I have come to realize that being a studio dancer is not just about practicing and performing. It has taught me so much more… lifelong lessons and skills that I feel will help me navigate through the rest of my life and have created a collage of moments that have not only made me a better dancer, but a better person ready to take on the world!

Dance has taught me…


The dance environment has exposed me to a whole new world! Constant auditioning, whether for a small group, competitive dance, or trying to get that scholarship for next year‘s convention, has taught me to respect the entire process — the teachers, the choreography, the critiques, my dance mates, and even other dancers I may be competing against. I have learned to listen to the details, and be aware of what exactly a teacher or a judge expects from me. In my younger years, professional dance environments were challenging for me. I would tend to forget choreography and get inside my own head. But through years of experience, I have become calmer and more relaxed as a dancer and feel very comfortable learning choreography quickly. (I mean, do I still get nervous? Of course! But it’s more controlled and professional now.)


Performing in front of big crowds, a judge, an instructor or even just your own dance friends is the life of a studio and competitive dancer. Having confidence in myself is half the battle. When all eyes are on you and you know you are being judged or considered for a piece, it can be hard to stay confident at times. But I have learned that if I just try to tune out all the distractions and focus on giving it my very best, my confidence is high and my performance is so much better! I will admit there are many times I go into a room and audition for a spot that other amazing dancers are auditioning for and can feel insecure, and my confidence can lower. But if I remind myself of who I am and truly believe in what I can do, I can walk out from that room with confidence, knowing I gave it all I had!

As a studio and competitive dancer, an audition can go wrong. I could mess up, fall down, have an “off day,” or just not be the right girl for this particular piece. Getting a “no“ from a judge or a teacher definitely stings a bit and I admit that I question my dance abilities during those times and tend to compare myself to other dancers, but I have learned that the best way to handle those situations are to accept that there’s always a good reason I was not chosen and learn from it. I have learned to be patient and not get discouraged when things don’t go my way, but instead move on and be encouraged in knowing I have future auditions ahead of me!


My favorite part about being a studio and competitive dancer! Some of my very best friends, who I don’t even go to school with, are girls from my studio. They are like family for sure! We have five different performing companies at my studio, and at the beginning of the year we form our own mini-families. Each family includes one member from each of the performing companies. We encourage one another throughout the year and give each other gifts along the way. It gives me the opportunity to meet some of the younger dancers and form friendships with them. Because we spend a lot of time at dance conventions, I meet a lot of new people from different parts of the country and world who become my friends. I just had an amazing experience in California for a global dance event and made friends with dancers from Alaska, Pennsylvania, Montana, and even Malaysia, to name a few! It was so cool to meet such a diverse group of people, and get to know some of their culture! Without me being in the dance world, I don’t think I would be able to have all of these great experiences to form new friendships!


There is no doubt that I have learned through the years of being a dancer that I will never be anyone else but me. It’s so easy to look at someone else and compare myself to how they dance, how they audition or what their body type is like, but dance has taught me that that doesn’t get me anywhere. Just with any sport or art, there will always be someone better. But learning to focus on how I can improve myself, and acknowledge that I have a unique, God- given self frees me from constantly feeling I need to be somebody else.


So many times, people will ask me, “Where do you find time to study or do anything else besides dance?” Legitimate question for sure because I find myself in the studio most days of the week! I do have to make sacrifices and can’t always go to a social function, a trip or do extracurricular activities at school, but the love I have for dance outweighs this. Doing well in my academics is extremely important to me and in order to maintain good grades in school I have to be ultra organized!

As soon as I come home from school, I go straight up to my room with a snack to get as much school work done as possible before I have to go to the studio. And when I get home from dance, my parents usually have my dinner ready on a plate and I take it straight up to my room and finish my work. There are those times where we sit around the dinner table and actually have a family meal together, but mostly I’m eating and studying at the same time! Having a visual calendar hung up in my room for each month helps me stay focused on what’s coming up and how I should prioritize what I need to get done. Being a “full-time” studio dancer definitely takes up a lot of my time, but being organized and making sacrifices are part of this life that I choose!


Dance has opened up so many opportunities and helped me to believe in my dreams and chase after them! Ever since I started dancing, I knew I wanted to pursue it further after I graduated from high school. One of my dreams is to be a college dancer. I’m not completely sure which college I’ll attend, but I definitely have my eye on Ole Miss, and being a member of their Rebellette dance team would truly be a dream come true! Without dance, I would not have realized my dream of dancing on a college team. Dance is truly what I look forward to doing everyday, and I am forever thankful for all I have learned through dancing with my amazing Westies!

Connect with McClure: @mcclurethornton

Photos by Natalie Thompson
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