Categories
Uncategorized

Rule number 1

Be cool. What others think of our talent and ability is completely out of our control. Not everyone will like what you do. If you are well-known, people will publicly not like what you do.

If we take chances and step out of what is safe and status quo, not everything will be a home run. I can list the things I’ve done that completely flopped, sometimes ending in ridicule or a bad review. Lesson learned. That didn’t work.

Back to the first rule. Be cool. That is what we can control. The person that can take and apply feedback, work as a team, help others when needed and come to the room without their ego will, with persistence, be more likely to sustain a career.

Categories
Uncategorized

Action, not goals

Goals constrict and constrain us. They close off possibilities.

If we enjoy our work and are compelled to keep training, we can be happy with where we are, in the moment. If we do the work without goals or expectations, the journey becomes much richer.

I didn’t want to be a Rockette. I trained for me. For reasons I can’t put into words, I took more classes. The process was highly addictive. I never stopped to assess whether I thought I was ‘good enough’, whether I was this kind of dancer or that kind of dancer. I wanted to learn everything, to constantly hone technique.

The treasure is in the process. Enjoy the work.

Categories
Uncategorized

This has potential

“Whatever you’re doing, that’s better.”

“I can work with that.”

“Not bad.”

These are examples of authentic feedback given to me. We all need to, on occasion, be told how amazing we are. But it’s the authentic feedback that feeds growth. The above was all earned. What I was doing was originally not good, so when it was “better”, this was a great day. Seek out mentors and coaches that will give it to you straight, without ego and condescension.

Categories
Uncategorized

Take the note

We are our habits. Everything counts. Even if you’re rehearsing in an empty studio, you do it full out. Your expression is full out. Because if you’re not full out, it’s futile.

We tell dancers this in classes and rehearsals for competitions and performances. We say, ‘this is how you need to work’. Yet teachers will often see no difference. Many corrections aren’t applied or even attempted. Simple things, like ‘move your arms’.

We are our habits. They follow us outside the studio, on stage, in life. Each moment in class and rehearsal counts. When corrected, you take the note. Even if you hate smiling or think you look ridiculous, you take the note.

Categories
Uncategorized

Who’s better at being you, than you

Change is hard. It’s even harder if you feel like you have to show up as someone that you think people will respect as legitimate.

I was a Rockette for years. I was really good at this job. Seriously. At one point ensemble members remarked how I never got notes. I was swung out of a dress rehearsal. This is HUGE. Then, everything changed.

I was hit by a bus, which fractured my skull in 7 places and put me in a coma for 6 days. Cut to recovery. I did another season as a Rockette, but the accident curtailed my dream career path. Who even was I anymore?

After years of showing up and standing in line doing as directed, I’m now no longer doing what I was adept at for so long. I thought I had to become something else if I’m now going to sit at this table with these people.

It turns out that it was much better to show up as myself.

Categories
Uncategorized

Fixing perception

Nobody is immune to hypocrisy. Cultural dancing that utilizes the hips offends a segment of the population. This is the same society that puts children in barely-there costumes and has them shake their behinds to the audience for 2 counts of 8 for a score.

It’s not my place to say what should and should not be taught. I teach what I believe and that is what I am responsible for. I can state the following as a fact though.

When I am behind the judges’ table and kids are on stage in revealing costumes doing movements beyond their maturity level to music beyond their maturity level, I am not impressed, I feel slightly awkward and occasionally sad.

Is it hypocritical that we will go on for days harshly criticizing adults dancing like adults for adults, and at the same time dress kids up just as provocatively and give them movement with a connotation that their maturity level doesn’t comprehend?

Categories
Uncategorized

Let it grow

Some of my most monumental growth moments were when I jumped into something way out past the edge of my comfort zone. I, a person who is most often in front of people directing them what to do next, put myself into classes with great humans who excel in areas I am working to strengthen. Unexpectedly, I turned into a pile of sobbing mush, standing alone in front of these warm, supportive and talented people.

I can’t wait to experience that again. Something so weird happens to me, where I’m no longer capable of uttering a complete sentence. I am the definition of complete and unadulterated vulnerability. We don’t all get to feel what that is like, stripping down all of the layers to build something stronger inside of us. If you have a chance to work on a skill or craft that you dream of developing and fear keeps blocking you, get out your bulldozer and raze that hurdle.

Categories
Uncategorized

Going and getting good

We live in a time where everyone is great, and there’s a social accountability to showing the world exactly how great we are and what awards we got.

The other day I was expressing to a former dance teacher how grateful I was that she never told me I was good when I wasn’t. I have no recollection of what awards we won. We probably did well. None of that mattered.

I knew I had to go and get good. And nobody knew where I was going to get good. They didn’t need to. It wasn’t for them.

It’s the small, personal triumphs that add up to the most meaning, and we don’t need to wait for others to love us to feel successful.

Categories
Uncategorized

If not now, when? And if not then, how about now?

One of the biggest things we can’t get back in life is time. We will say to ourselves for 20 years things like, ‘I really want to learn how to act’ or ‘I want to learn how to play guitar’. 20 years later that desire still lives, and if it’s a year later we still think we will get to it.

It’s easy to find acceptable reasons to convince ourselves why we can’t do something ‘right now’. It’s easier to let yourself believe that the time has passed and now it’s too late. Who says it’s too late? Society? Pffft. Ok. You might not be center stage at City Center and you might not have an exhibit at the Guggenheim, but when you finally do something you’ve wanted to do, it’s one of the most gratifying feelings.

So ask yourself. What is stopping you? It many cases it’s yourself. Don’t be afraid to be afraid, and don’t ever con yourself into thinking it’s too late.

Categories
Uncategorized

What you are looking for is right in front of you

In the novel The Alchemist, the main character has dreams of a treasure buried thousands of miles away. He embarks on a yearslong journey to seek this treasure. In short, he gets robbed along the way, falls in love, is attacked by robbers again, and comes to find out that the treasure he traveled thousands of miles to find was buried at home under the very tree he had those dreams.

I think about this metaphor often. The dance training I needed to succeed was right in front of me, in my first teacher’s basement, at the local studio where I received formative training. Through college, I went to local studios where I’d take extra classes to supplement the college dance classes I was enrolled in at the university close to my hometown.

Go for it. Experience it all. It will make you whole. Dance everywhere. Be like that little white feather in Forrest Gump and go where the wind blows you. In the end, you will discover that what you were looking for was right there in front of you.