As I have helped several students prepare for milestone solo performances in 2015, I’ve had to come up with more creative pep talks than ever before. Some people call it advice, some call it inspiration – for me, it is just some simple things to keep in mind to help with the journey, and to get us over the hump when things get hard. And how joyous and beautiful it is when we get over those humps!
While I’m sure I have my catch phrases, themes and drumbeats that I talk about (repeatedly) in classes and rehearsals, I’ve never written them down. Maybe I should at some point. But in the meantime, these 2 dancers cum dance teachers have expressed some of these ideas so beautifully. I’ve pulled out a few of my favorite points from each post, but I encourage you to read them in full.
Dear Dance Student: Words of Wisdom from an Older Dancer by Keesha Beckford
- Treat class — and your every opportunity to dance– as a gift, as a special time for you.
- Listen to every correction given. Try to implement it, even if it wasn’t given to you.
- If you don’t understand the correction, ask.
- A dance class is a lab. Experiment continually. Never do it the same way twice.
- Celebrate your gifts, while working your damndest to overcome any shortcomings.
- While your teacher should be respectful, s/he is not there to be your friend, but to make you a better dancer.
- There will always be bad days. Do not be defined by them.
- Sometimes the epiphany, the breakthrough, comes later.
- Immediate gratification is rare. When it happens it is the result of years of training. The fun and the joy are in the struggle.
- Keep dance in perspective. Know that you can still be a smart, loving, fantastic person with a great life even if one day you can’t buy a decent pirouette.
- …remember that dance is communication. Dance is artistry. Keep in mind the power and potential of small and simple movement.
- Did I say to treat every chance to dance as a gift?
15 Truths About Being a Professional Dancer by Melanie Doskocil
- Dance is hard. – No dancer ever became successful riding on their natural born talents only. Dancers are artists and athletes. The world of dance today is akin to an extreme sport. Natural ability and talent will only get us so far. Dancers must work hard and persevere. Dancers give years of their lives plus their sweat, tears and sometimes blood to have the honor and pleasure of performing on stage
- You won’t always get what you want.
- There’s a lot you don’t know. – …The minute we think we know it all, we stop being a valuable asset.
- There may not be a tomorrow. – …Dance every day as if it is the final performance. Don’t save the joy of dance for the stage. Infuse even your routine classroom exercises with passion!
- There’s a lot you can’t control. – …Focus on honing your craft, being the best dancer you can be. Keep an open mind and a positive attitude.
- Information is not true knowledge. – Knowledge comes from experience.
- If you want to be successful, prove you are valuable. – …Show up early, know your material, be prepared, keep your opinions to yourself unless they are solicited and above all be willing to work hard.
- Someone else will always have more than you/be better than you. – …focus on the things you are good at, the things you need to work on and the things that make you happiest as a dancer.
- You can’t change the past. – …Dance is an art form that forces us to concentrate on the present.
- The only person who can make you happy is you.
- There will always be people who don’t like you. – …What others think and say about you isn’t all that important. What is important is how you feel about yourself.
- Sometimes you will fail.
- Sometimes you will have to work for free. – …There are many good reasons to work for free, and there are just as many reasons not to work for free. Ask yourself if the cause is worthy, if the experience is worth it, if it will bring you joy.
- Repetition is good. Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result is insane.
- You will never feel 100% ready. – Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. …The greatest opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means you won’t feel totally comfortable or ready for it.