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Artists Dance Educators Goals Training for success

Who are you?

If you are a student in a dance class or audition (remember those?) that is difficult and the challenge makes you uncomfortable, what do you do?

Do you decide that it’s too hard so you won’t bother to try to struggle through to accomplish something new and surprise yourself?

Do you believe your teacher when they confidently tell you that you fit, that you are doing well, that you’ll get it if you stay focused and train?

Do you believe your teacher when they tell you that you aren’t quite at that level, but if you dedicate yourself to training you can get closer to where you want to be? Do you accept the level you are placed in?

Do you decide that you don’t really like this style anyway so you’re going to slack off and resist taking corrections because why bother?

When the choreography is challenging, do you do the extra work to rise up to the level of the material you are given, or do you settle for not really mastering it?

Are you teachable? Trainable? Do you remember the corrections that you got last time and apply them?

If you are a teacher, I bet you can think of students that relate to all of these questions. If you are a student (we are all students, really), it’s important to reflect on this and see where you can do better.

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Artists creating motivation

Pick up the pieces

There’s something you used to be really good at. You practiced all the time and you made the time to practice.

Other stuff took you away from practicing your craft so much. School, work, family, life in general, or sometimes there’s a global crisis.

Maybe it’s been years and you’ve convinced yourself that you lost it, that you used to be good, it’s all in the past and that’s that.

Go find it again. It’s still there. You may need to dust it off, clean off the rust and start from the beginning. Pick it back up, one small piece at a time.

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Artists Dance Goals motivation Networking

The energy you give

In a world of constant viewership and yearning for approval, and especially in the performing arts industry, it’s easy to get trapped in a negative mindset.

These people don’t respect me so I’m going to ignore them.

This person doesn’t like my work.

That group of people doesn’t hold me in any sort of high regard like they do others.

In these moments, it’s important to look inward and ask yourself,

“Do I give my energy freely and often?”

“Do I engage with people in my industry thoughtfully and supportively?”

“Do I show respect with an open heart and open mind?”

“Do I show up, truly?”

We can only get back what we put out into the world, and generosity, community and connection make the world better. Take it one step further than you did before.

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Artists Dance Goals motivation Training for success

What if it’s too easy

Advanced dancers know how to work in any level class. If the material is simpler, they will work on emotional texture, refining their lines, sustaining movements a little longer. They’ll change a shuffle to riffle, a heel to a toe, try different stylizations with each repetition of the combination. They will make the class their own.

Less advanced dancers in the same situation will say the class is too easy, that they already know this, then proceed to not give their full effort because the class is below their ability level.

Smart dancers will ask for ways they can challenge themselves more if they need some guidance. They may respectfully ask if they can try the class that is a level higher in addition to the class they are placed in. Maybe the teacher isn’t seeing all they are capable of, or maybe the dancer takes the extra classes and works up to the level they desire to be dancing at.

Dancers who get it will show up, be present, ask specific questions and enjoy the process.

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Artists creating Dance Goals motivation

Says who

We very often tell ourselves things to make us feel better. It can help us cope with being content in the moment, or it can stifle our ambition to achieve new heights or try something new.

I’m too old to become a director.

I’m starting too late. I’ll never be an actor.

I should have pursued this 20 years ago.

You have to ask yourself who is telling you these things. Mostly, it’s you. Others don’t get to decide whether you’re too old or too late.

Make art, whether it’s in your living room or at a Nederlander theatre. Seek out the best sources and guidance. Don’t stop.

Past regrets and bumps in the road do a great job of getting in our way. Use the good stuff as fuel and ignore the rest.

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Artists creating Dance motivation

I’ll be there

Many of us are fortunate to have people in our lives, outside of the obligatory immediate family members, that show up to everything we do as performers.

Whether it’s a class show for an improv comedy course, a dance concert in a crowded church basement or an outdoor performance at a large, well-known venue, they will be there. They always show up. It’s impossible to express in words the gratitude felt for my personal super fans who, no matter what, will be in the audience.

The only way I can think to possibly express it is to become that same super fan for others that I would want sitting in the front row at my show, to clear out some space in daily life and make time so I can be the one that shows up. Someday we will buy tickets to shows again. Our friends will have gigs. If I can make others feel a fraction of what I feel when my friends show up for me, I will be there.

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Artists Business Careers

More than you think and not enough

Everyone knew better than me. What do I know, after all. How do I know this is the right way to go if I don’t ask people first. The people that know better.

It’s so great that we can now ask anybody what we should do. What song should I use? Which costume do you like better? What school should I go to? But wait. Does the rest of the world really know so much more than me?

Artists are, by nature, often second-guessing, hard on themselves, never quite satisfied with their work, contemplating what they haven’t accomplished. Does this sound familiar?

The truth is that we know more than we will give ourselves credit for. Trust your choices and trust your knowledge, and if you’re down to the final stretch of your endeavor mulling over a small detail, ask a trusted person who knows you a singular, specific question.

We will never have all the answers, but we have many more than we think.

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Artists creating Dance motivation

What is it for?

Why am I taking voice lessons if I’m not a singer?

Why am I taking ballet classes every week if I’m not a ballet dancer?

Why did I study high level math if I’m not an engineer, physicist or astronaut?

If it gives fulfillment, is time well spent, connects me with others or more deeply with myself, gives a needed outlet or a needed place to hide, feels right or enhances other areas of life, that’s all that matters.

Likes, shares and comments are temporarily satisfying. The joy derived from doing things ‘just because’ stays with us so much longer.

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Artists Business Dance motivation productivity Technology

Pivot, step, walk, walk, walk

One very easy thing to do right now is to worry and ask ‘what if’.

What if I lose my business? What if my job, as I know it, is no longer? What if I have to change my life around completely? Now what?

Worrying takes a lot of energy and accomplishes nothing (we all will still spend some time worrying). We could also wait for things to get back to normal. Waiting is also not a good use of time.

As unideal as it is, it’s important to continue doing the work.

Not everything needs to change.

  • I’m still teaching my classes but they are pre-recorded.
  • I’m still teaching my classes but they are live-streamed.
  • I’m still planning classes for each level I teach, but now I’ve taken the time to separate the levels into different notebooks.

What’s next for me? An online monthly membership for people who want to continue tap dancing at home, or learn from the beginning. Stay tuned!

With slogs come new ideas, or time to develop the unrealized ideas and goals buried inside us collecting dust.

We can worry and wait and rant and let the challenge swallow us, or if we’re talking business-speak, we can nimbly pivot. As dancers, we’re slightly more talented and we can “Pivot, step, walk, walk, walk.

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Artists Dance and Social Media motivation Training for success

For example

It is no longer a select few in charge who get to be heard shouting at others for not doing things the right way or for the right reasons. (Side note: I’m going to narrow this down to the realm of dance, but it’s applicable to any industry or topic.)

Each and every one of us has our own public soapbox to argue about split sole tap shoes, rant about tap dancers not listening to jazz music, bemoan the hypersexualization of competition dance and overall, shame others for not representing the art form in a way that we find acceptable.

This doesn’t work.

Humans don’t want to be antagonized into doing things “the right way”. We learn by following the examples around us. We teach what we’ve learned from our mentors and what we feel is true to the integrity of the art form, while making it engaging. That’s all that matters.

Follow the example I set. Or don’t.

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Artists Careers Dance Educators Training for success

When to stay and when to walk away

Part of achieving success as an artist is having the right training. Having the right training means you have mentors. The best mentors will help you achieve your maximum potential in a way that is demanding without being condescending.

In vulnerable states, artists may rely on their mentors to get them through the roughest patches. If this vulnerability becomes manipulated, it crosses the line into unhealthy.

Your teachers helped you reach great heights under their tutelage and may have believed in you when it seemed nobody else did.

It’s all great until it isn’t. Fifty great things your mentor has done for you cannot outweigh one very bad thing they have done to you.

The effect teachers have on students lasts a lifetime, the good and the bad. If it doesn’t feel healthy, walk away, and cherish the ones that push you to your best and catch you when you fall.

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Artists Dance motivation

That’s the truth

The truth can be quite elusive, especially when it is uncomfortable and feels unsafe, even more especially right now.

Past all of the arguments over minutiae and people bending the truth to their liking, past all the opinions and noise, there’s ballet. It’s right or it’s not. You’re in 5th position, or you’re not. Your leg is behind you, or it’s not. There’s weight on your tendu foot, or there’s not.

In a hyperconnected world of bickering, quarreling, unfounded theories and distress, there’s plié and breath.

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Careers Dance Educators Training for success

Value isn’t cheap

On tour in 2005 in the town of Somewhere, USA, my cast mates and I went to a dingy gym in a hotel basement so I could teach them the audition material for the upcoming Radio City Rockettes audition. I’d been doing the job for many years at this point, so I knew what the open call would entail.

These women are fabulous dancers. I just needed to fine tune some tiny details. Two of the three that auditioned ended up getting hired that season, after being cut from previous years of auditions. Words can’t express how special that was to me. They of course didn’t pay me a dime.

Other times in my career I’ve been hired to guest teach at studios or as a faculty member of a convention or festival where students don’t know foundational tap steps, and I’m paid very well to teach them some basics that they could learn from anybody with some knowledge.

How much I was paid in any case doesn’t matter.

The value of a teacher’s work isn’t measured by how much money they make. It’s measured by what those they teach get out of it.

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Dance Goals motivation

All the little things

I don’t remember what awards I got at any dance competitions I participated in.

I barely remember my graduation ceremonies. I may have had some small graduation party but I don’t remember that either.

As great as my wedding was (all 9 minutes), the best part is the marriage.

My high school was too nonconformist to have a prom, but we did have a dance called ‘morp’ (prom spelled backwards). I’m grateful to my good friend who took me as his date, but I don’t remember the actual dance.

Many of us are missing out on milestone events this year. While those singular days and moments I mentioned don’t live strongly in my memory, the countless moments that led to them or came afterward always will.

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Careers Dance Educators Training for success

Full Circle

It was fun to grow up analog, to be a part of the generation that grew up analog. In the dance community we somehow figured out what was good, which dance studio would provide the best training and where the dance conventions and tap festivals were. When we got home at the end of the day, we were away from everyone. With a few exceptions, everything was local.

Adulthood combined with the ever growing internet made everything very big. I traveled to L.A. and New York City to study with as many dance artists as possible, to know them and for them to know me.

“Hey! You’ve been in my class before.”

Then came social media. Who remembers MySpace? You can now connect with anyone in your industry anywhere in the world. It’s an infinite realm of choices and possibilities.

I’m ready to go back to small. I don’t just mean geographically, although I can’t wait to be able to sit at the counter again at the tiny diner around the corner. I’m ready to continue doing my best work for the small group who shares my excitement and spirit. I’m back where I started, but so much better.

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Artists creating Goals rejection

The Go-Tos

When I feel like I’m running out of time: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/23/arts/dance/alessandra-ferri-american-ballet-theater-romeo-juliet-kenneth-macmillan.html

When I need a reminder that success is very far from a straight line: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/28/movies/ethan-hawke-blaze-foley-first-reformed.html

For great music with a mix of esoteric, mainstream and in-between: https://www.kcrw.com/music/shows/eclectic24

When it’s time to work out: https://www.sweat.com/

Selected inspiring books I’ve loved reading: You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero & Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham

When I need something comfortable and predictable, for background while I work on other things: Gilmore Girls [substitute any show that you’ve seen all the episodes of that don’t make you think too hard]

Find what keeps you going every day.

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Business Dance Dance and Social Media

Rule #1

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a gut punch every time someone unsubscribes from my email list. Oh no! They don’t like me anymore!

If you head over to the Dance Teacher Network on Facebook, you read about a lot of disappointment having to do with students leaving, many times on unfriendly terms with mean-spirited texts and emails.

Even if the aforementioned unsubscribers came to my studio only once or twice, or came to my festival 4 years ago, it doesn’t change the gut punch factor.

Sometimes people do just need to move on. This place wasn’t the place for them. Rule number 1 if this is you: be cool. This means leave respectfully. Frame complaints as a solutions. Frame negatives as positives. Act with integrity without sugarcoating or euphemizing.

It’s questionable etiquette to post about how amazing the new studio is or to air grievances about a studio with which there was a falling out. Moreover, it’s not relevant to most people reading it. Read: we don’t care.

Dance studios are not AT&T. We run our small businesses with a fervent passion. Everything we do comes personally from us. The AT&T rep on the line isn’t really “sorry for your frustration.” We can’t all get along all the time, but no matter what, be cool.

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Artists Careers Dance

This one time

There’s nothing like live theatre. A play may be performed 8 times a week, but the time you see it can never be exactly replicated. When things go wrong, those are extra special performances to witness, seeing performers in all their humanity and vulnerability. Here are some of my finest [insert sarcastic tone] once-in-a-lifetime moments:

Stumbled in front of 5000 people in the opening number on opening night of my first season as a Radio City Rockette.

Got my fishnets caught in the trombone during one of the many shows at Casino Windsor. Only 250 in the audience that time.

Popped out of my costume during the opening number of Elvis To the Max at Casino Windsor. Guess where the audience is looking now!

Parade Of the Wooden Soldier pants split in the, um, crack during the opening night performance of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, once again, in front of 5000 people.

Got dragged off stage by my sheep in the Living Nativity during, you guessed it, opening night of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. This time there were only about 2000 people in the audience.

Got called the “low point of the show” in a review by some local weekly paper in St. Louis, thankfully not the New York Times.

Still here.

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Dance and Social Media Educators Technology

It’s not what you say…

Want to know if a new play, movie or book or tv show is any good? There used to be a select group of critics and gatekeepers that were the arbiters of what was and was not worth our time.

It’s now really easy to be a critic. The world can read what you thought about Sondheim’s 90th birthday concert or “Hollywood” on Netflix. Facebook and other platforms have taken away the gatekeepers. Anyone can speak up.

It’s important that those who educate choose to engage people over alienating them. Yelling at those who we feel ‘disrespect the art form’ or whose values and points of view don’t align with ours pushes more people away and diminishes the potential to reach others and make a difference, which is what most all of us who are educators set out to do.

The louder the critics are, the less they are worth listening to.

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Dance Goals Musical Theatre productivity

Your call

Guest post by David Alpert http://www.david-alpert.com/welcome

One of the best things musical theatre performers can do in their continual quest to expand their knowledge is to discover and listen to cast recordings from the history of Broadway and Off-Broadway.  Finding those gems of musicals that you may not be familiar with can be an incredible exercise in training your ear to understand different styles of music and singing, and also lead to new rep choices for your book.


Just as I would expect my doctor to have studied the history of medicines, landmark discoveries, and important scientific findings (as well as studying current trends), I expect performers to know the history, landmarks, and trends of our business.


Is there a revival you love?  Have you gone back and listened to the original recording?  What’s different?  What’s changed? 


Is there a musical from the 1960’s you’ve never heard of, but you connect to a certain song?  Does it wrap around your voice nicely?  Perhaps it can go in your book?  Are there covers of the song to open your mind to new interpretations?


Use this time to listen.  Find the sheet music.  How do the lyrics apply to you, in this moment?


You can also do what I do: listen to the music with no further agenda–just enjoy the showtunes.  Your call.

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Artists Careers Dance Trends

Kick it old school, also don’t

It’s convenient to shrug off current trends and say, “I’m old school”. That way, it’s easy to stay comfortable, not worry about what’s new and stick to what feels good.

Then we get disconnected. Then we feel obsolete. Then all this time passes by and shoot, we need to catch up. The other choice is sitting around grumbling about how it’s not like it used to be. Full disclosure: that’s still going to happen sometimes.

If there’s an upside to the increased time on my hands, it’s that I have gotten to stop and look around. I actually know songs that are current now. I get Tik Tok! I get it! I understand why people love it. I want to be better at it. It helps me work on skills that I can apply elsewhere like ideal camera angles, good lighting and comedic timing.

What is driving the culture right now will never supersede what is classic and timeless. But if we insulate ourselves from the constantly changing, hyperconnected world, it will be much harder to continue thriving.

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Artists creating Dance

Be simple

The most memorable pieces of art are those with one simple concept that is brought to vivid life.

No matter our differences, we feel the same emotions. Love, loss, joy, anger…

I remember a piece titled “What Was Left”, because at the end there was one dancer left on stage.

Members of a Dutch ballet company performed a duet about the painful, awkward, uncomfortable moments before the end of a relationship. She brushed against his body as they exited opposite sides of the stage. That was 14 years ago but it seems like yesterday.

In simplicity we find the relatable, and in the relatable we capture our audience.

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collaboration Dance teamwork

We all fall down

In Parade Of the Wooden Soldiers, the iconic piece performed by the Radio City Rockettes, we end the piece with the famous fall.

It’s not really a fall. It requires laser focus and immense upper body strength. If one person does not do her job, it fails 100%. When the fall fails, people get hurt. If you do less than 100% and someone gets hurt, that’s on you.

It was one of the best ways to learn that no matter how well I do, it doesn’t mean anything if every single other person isn’t just as strong.

It goes both ways. If I’m the weak link and the rest of the line is fully engaged, the whole thing will still collapse. Every single person matters.

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Goals productivity

What happens next?

It’s human nature. At the end of every year we make resolutions. “This is the year”, we tell ourselves. It’s going to be the best year. We are going to get it right this time. Gyms are packed for the first half of January, then they aren’t.

The tendency is to wait for benchmarks of life like graduations, specific dates or other life events. It helps alleviate the pressure to start right now. The big day comes and bam, the master plan can commence.

So what happens when we go back to regular life? There are two choices. We can wait until that day to implement all of the things we think we should have been doing in the first place, before the pandemic. Or, little by little, day by day, we can make small efforts that will create a continuous ripple and add up to where we would like to be.

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Careers Dance and Social Media Networking

My door is open

Notable figures in any industry have a responsibility to be approachable and accessible. In the arts, this means anyone who travels to educate, who is known as a performer and/or is a director or leader of any kind.

What we say and do stays with those we interact with for years. The moments that teachers at festivals, conventions or professional studios (Steps, Broadway Dance Center, Edge) take to talk to students before or after class matter as much as the education they get during the class. The time that performers take to say ‘hi’ to fans and sign autographs at the stage door makes them impactful beyond the character they play on stage.

What we say on social media matters, and more so, how we say it. Most of us won’t get to hang out with the very famous, but don’t you feel like you could just sit and have a cup of coffee with Tom Hanks? Lin Manuel Miranda’s ‘Gmorning, Gnight’ tweets lifted people’s spirits so much he put them in a book. They make their followers feel important, even though there are millions of them.

When people look to us for training, guidance or insight, it is our responsibility, to them as individuals and to our art form as a whole, to be approachable and accessible. Twenty years later, they will remember what we said.

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Artists Careers Dance rejection

Go out there and be terrible

Have you been laughed at, ridiculed or given a bad review? No? Well then, try harder.

Seriously though, you have to be terrible before you are good. If you are always good at everything, are you reaching enough?

The faculty hated that Pink Floyd piece I choreographed in college and reluctantly put it in the concert. I sang and tap danced in a showcase and got completely laughed at. There are many other instances. I learned so much from all of them.

Being formulaic is a comfortable place to be. If you do A, B and C, it will look like this and conform to expectations, like #1 songs on the Billboard charts. Check all the boxes.

The path to being remarkable is full of trying things that fail, being wrong, being rejected and being criticized. The sweet reward of this path is looking back and knowing that when you wanted to try something, you did.

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Dance Goals productivity

I don’t feel like practicing today

All those hours of practice got us to where we are right now. We are hard-pressed to relax and have a day of doing nothing. What are we missing out on? Everyone else is working on something while we are just sitting here!

What is ‘productive enough’? Am I self-disciplined enough? These things race through my mind on the regular. Guess what? It’s okay to shut it down for a day. For a week. For a month.

Here are a few gems that I always remind myself of.

Ruby Keeler retired from show business and came back 30 years later to star in the Broadway revival of “No, No, Nanette”. Glenda Jackson took a 30-year hiatus from the stage to go fight Thatcherism as a member of Parliament in Great Britain, returning to Broadway at age 81. Alessandra Ferri reprised her role as Juliet with American Ballet Theatre at age 53 (!) after retiring 9 years prior.

So you aren’t feeling it today, or tomorrow. Intuition isn’t just random guessing. Trust it. It will bring you back to practicing when you are ready.

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Artists Careers Dance

Popularity contest

One highly rewarding thing about being an artist is having a group of true fans that will always show up for you. It doesn’t mean you are popular, and being popular doesn’t always mean you are good.

The gold, the best stuff, the reason to keep going is the people who care about what you have to give. I take time to design my tap classes each week, and I take pride in the work I put into them. My classes weren’t packed in New York City, and less people signed up to perform my choreography in the showcases than the other choreographers on the bill. To me that made it more special. The dancers that were with me believed in my vision.

Popular does not equal best, and you don’t need everybody to love you. You need a consistent group of people that show up and believe in your ideas and your work.

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Dance Goals Training for success

Train smart

Where you train and who you attribute your training to is not cut and dry. It never was, not even when we were living in an analog world. Taking from as many teachers as you can isn’t training, no matter how well-known they are. Hopping from studio to studio isn’t training well either.

Most importantly, every dancer needs their anchor, the teachers that shape them with a foundation that will serve them wherever they go.

The key is finding the perfect mix. First, there are the go-to’s, the mentors that really know you and know how to pull out your best, and aren’t afraid of offending you if they push harder. They may be a different set of teachers over the years, but you always need them. Second, there are those teachers that you love to take from once in a while, and it’s always a treat when you do. Lastly, push yourself to take classes from completely new people. This one gets harder the older you get. And don’t stop taking class, even if it means giving yourself a class and imagining what your mentor is saying to you with each movement.

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Careers Dance Goals

Best-laid plans

Most of the time we are not good at planning our lives. We think that if we do this, that will happen, and we are fraught with worry about making the right decisions. Much of the time we are wrong, and then we keep doing it. It’s an unproductive feedback loop.

I wasn’t planning to be a dancer. I was going to be an engineer! Dancing was something I obsessively did, training as much as possible. The universe said, “nope.” I’m going to take you this way. And like that little feather in Forrest Gump, I went.

I once signed a yearlong contract to work in Dubai and was fired after 2 days of training and sent back to New York. The universe thought I didn’t really need to spend a year there. Next up, corporate America. Meh. As much as I tried to plan for another future, that wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing. “Dance”, she said.

The universe puts us where we need to be. I’m not sure where she’ll send me next, but I’ll keep dancing, educating and sharing my work, ready to be that little feather when the moment comes.

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Dance online learning Training for success

What is ‘better’?

With the great challenges the human race faces right now, there is also an opportunity, a chance to take the extra time and/or increasing online resources to keep exploring what ‘better’ means to us, in terms of our craft, and how to get there.

Working toward your version of better might not be taking advantage of 100 different free online classes. It might be finding one person to learn from that you may not have had access to before. It may be studying footage and teaching yourself choreography, whether from a Janet Jackson video or a Balanchine variation, or signing up for that Master Class membership that you’ve been wanting to do for years.

What ‘better’ means to others might be different. Taking 5 classes in a day with an online convention might not float your boat. Maybe investing in training with one mentor is more your cup of tea. Sometimes we get overtaken by our old fried paradox of choice, where there are so many options to choose from that we freeze and do nothing.

No matter what, do something. Keep moving. Find your ‘better’.

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Dance Networking

Connecting for the long game

Being charismatic in a room with large group of colleagues that I don’t really know does not come naturally. Hanging out by the cheese and fruit plates does.

In my earlier career, I could show up to rehearsals with a strong ethic and great attitude, work hard and go home. That was enough. That’s what I was great at. Having strength in cultivating relationships with colleagues and customers came later.

Staying actively engaged with people and genuinely interested in what they have to say, whether in person or on the myriad of social networks, gains the trust of those that care about your work. Even with the people that you don’t think like you. Don’t dismiss them. Engage with them too.

It is scary to share more with the world than our art (vulnerability, eek!), especially for the ambiverts and introverts. Opportunity comes when we dance with that fear.

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Dance Training for success

Jack of many trades

It’s eye-opening to read articles having to explain why dancers should study tap dancing, or why hip hop dancers should take ballet. Dance is dance, and it’s important to learn it all and not to question why, or ‘what will I need this for’? I will sit in this chair and pretend to chew food to weird, dissonant music, and I won’t ask ‘why’. This is what the choreographer said to do. (That actually happened!)

It is disheartening to teach a class of students that are there because they are required to be. They have to take tap to be in the company. They have to take 2 ballet classes a week to compete. This just doesn’t make sense to me. YOU GUYS! It’s DANCE! We are dancing! Afro-Cuban, Graham technique, waacking, butoh. I am in.

Jack-of-all-trades, master of none is not an accurate pairing, especially now. In the formative years, it’s so important to take in everything. Absorb it all. Be a master of many. It is truly possible. Robert A. Heinlein, considered the dean of science fiction writing, said “Specialization is for insects.” The versatile ones run the show. Steve Jobs was not the best programmer at Apple. He had a broad range of skills and could predict and innovate.

It’s possible to be a jack of many trades and pick one or two to pursue being an expert in. You can do both at the same time. The most important reason? It’s way more fun.

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Dance and Social Media

If a dancer pliés in their kitchen…

Dance training is personal. It will always mean more to the individual dancer than it will to anyone else. The emotional release, the increased vigor that you feel as you train harder, the feeling of doing something better than you did yesterday. All of that belongs to you. Nobody can feel what you feel inside your body and soul as you train to become better.

This has been true forever, before we had to stay at home and before we became globally hyperconnected.

Copying MTV videos with my friend in her driveway was for her and me. I didn’t need anyone else to see it. I had fun and I felt good and that’s all that mattered. (Yes, MTV used to play music videos!)

Now we get to the metaphysics. If a tree falls in the forest and no-one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Philosophers and scientists are divided. On the scientific side, “Sound is vibration, transmitted to our senses through the mechanism of our ear…If there are no ears to hear, there will be no sound.” (1) On the philosophical side, the tree will make a sound, even if nobody heard it, because it could have been heard. (2)

Each dancer has something inside that is theirs, that nobody can take. Training is a personal journey. If a dancer pliés in their kitchen and nobody is around to see it, it doesn’t matter. It belongs to them.

Sources: (1) – Scientific American, (2) Wikipedia/George Berkely

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Artists Choreography Educators motivation online learning Training for success

Make it stick

Start today. Don’t start tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that. Start now but start small.

Be a student. Always be a student. Those of us who educate dancers do our best work when we take class too. The classes we take will inform the classes we teach, what will move and motivate our students. Work on your tendus. Work on your shuffles. I still am.

And when I get a compliment from my teacher, it still feels really good.

Check out our new project, Tap Educators Intensive! IG: tap_educators_intensive • Website: http://tapeducators.com

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Artists Careers Training for success

Listen up

Sometimes, you should listen to those who have expertise and experience in your field, people who are practiced in it and educated in it, when you have choices to make.

Sometimes you shouldn’t listen to advice.

There’s no easy way to go about it.

There are dancers that I believe would have achieved certain goals of theirs had they heeded my advice and guidance.

There’s the teacher who didn’t seem to think much of me, who thought that I should have taken the first job I was offered because it was the only job I’d likely ever get.

Now, I didn’t turn it down because I thought I was above it. I turned it down because I wasn’t mature enough to leave home and tour for a year. As it happened, I was offered one of the top jobs any dancer could get less than a year later.

I digress. As artists and as humans, we do need mentors and colleagues to dispense feedback and wisdom, but we need to choose who we let in judiciously.

Not listening to anyone is bad. Listening to everyone will get you nowhere.

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Artists creating Dance Competitions teamwork Training for success

Who cares

Every year there are a few months when competition complaints and criticism of judges are abundant. It’s consistent from year to year, even in this most unique of seasons.

  • The judges don’t know tap.
  • They only want to see tricks.
  • The scoring is all over the place.
  • Do judges take off points for…

What’s interesting is that the kids aren’t the ones who are upset. Honestly the parents (of my students, at least) are never upset either. They are excited to see their kids on stage and to see the growth in ability from one season to the next.

Dancers are there to perform, to understand the rewards of working toward something and to work through the nerves of performing on a stage, in a costume, under lights and in front of an audience and/or complete strangers who will assess them in 2 minutes.

Winning is fun in the moment, but if we don’t win, are we going to hinge our validity, progress, artistry and joy on a snap judgement numerical score given by a stranger that can’t possibly know what it took to get that dancer or group of dancers on stage?

Trust the artistic process and enjoy the ride. Nobody remembers what the score was.

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Dance and Social Media Educators Technology Trends

It’s not what you say

Humans love to complain. We publicly post a dance rant and have 500 of our closest friends chime in on how they hate that too and then list 5 other things that that they can’t stand.

Who doesn’t love instant gratification? There’s that feeling of ultimate satisfaction for about 5 minutes, and then what? All of the sudden dancers start wearing tights and two shoes, age appropriate costumes, they stop filling the music with all tricks and all of the competition judges become perfect? Probably not.

If we put out work we believe in, work that reflects what we want to see on stage and what inspires us, we can find a longer lasting satisfaction than the knee jerk say-what-you-feel-right-now impulses that propel us to take our grumbles to social media for all to commiserate with.

What we say matters far less than how we say it. Expressing what we love to see is equivalent to expressing what we loathe to see, except more will listen if we frame it with a positive spin.

The reason trends exist is because somebody started them and our culture pushes us to conform.

Not every effort will be a home run, but if we bunt and get a base hit, it’s a promising start.

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Artists Dance and Social Media Technology

Start with this

Everyone can now know what we think about everything, should we choose to share it. There are no longer gatekeepers between us and our audience.

When something happens in our industry that we don’t like, the first instinct is often to take to social media.

“Everyone must know what I think about this.”

What’s the goal, really? What will change if everyone knows how much I dislike something or how against it I am? Will everyone all of the sudden start to do things differently? Will 500 people I don’t know give me life changing advice when they can’t really see it from the inside?

These exchanges very often turn into arguments that nobody ever wins, or mountains of advice and opinions from people who really don’t know us.

If we want to make change, truly meaningful change, we make culture by starting with the people right around us. This is our group, and our group does it like this.

When the impact starts small, it ends up much greater.

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motivation rejection Training for success Uncategorized

You might be terrible

Wanting to learn something new is easy.

Signing up to start learning it is fairly easy.

Getting yourself to step into that first class or lesson isn’t quite as easy. Fear can start to kick in, combined with inhibition and vulnerability with a side of nervousness. But still, let’s say getting to the first class isn’t so difficult.

You get to the first class and what you imagined yourself doing might not be what comes out of you. Well, you say to yourself, this is much harder than it looks.

There’s the rub. What do you do?

Fun fact: it’s ok to not be good at something. You might be terrible at it. Let’s think ahead though.

What happens if you keep going back? You become less terrible. And the next time even less terrible. One day, low and behold, you will be good at it! The rewards are much greater than the frustration and stumbles along the way.

Many have bailed before they got a chance to see what they are able to accomplish. If that inner voice is saying it’s too hard, find that stronger voice that tells you to enjoy the journey. Enjoy being terrible. I’m not here typing this because I’m great. I’m here because I was terrible and I kept going.

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Artists creating motivation

The non-negotiables

As dance educators, as any educators, as humans, we have more to give if we take time for ourselves. It can be as little as 15 minutes (longer is better but take what you can).

Take your time

I’m going to take these 15 minutes to eat breakfast and read the newspaper.

I’m going to read 10 pages of this book.

I’m going to do 20 minutes of yoga.

I’m going to take ballet class at noon on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, so I’m not available then. Call me at 1:30.

I’m going to take 45 minutes and learn something new.

I’m taking these 10 minutes to write.

Put your me time on your to-do list and make sure you check it off.

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Artists Choreography creating Educators

Make it real

We have the ability to ask 10,000 people what a good song would be for a 7-8 year-olds musical theatre solo.

We can join a group where colleagues will share with us how they marketed their studio and all of the promotions and trials they did that were a smashing success.

We can pick songs and create dances based on what we think people would like to see or dancers would like to do, or what we think would score well.

Nobody does you better than you.

All of this is not for nothing, but none of it will work if it doesn’t move you from the core, if it doesn’t feel right and natural, if it’s not coming from you, if it’s not consistent.

My biggest flops were when I was trying to emulate someone or something else because I thought it was better than what I could create or be on my own.

Let your flops and failures be YOUR flops and failures. Only then can your massive successes truly belong to you.

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Artists creating motivation rejection

Wait for it

We see it often. A colleague opens a new space and it’s immediately packed with people (these days, in a limited capacity). What?! How are they open for a week and packed like that?

What if you’re not one of those immediately popular businesses, artists or entities? You start with one client or supporter, then two, a few more… Some stick with you, some disappear.

The ones who stay come for you. They like what you’re about, what your process is, how you designed your program or your work. Little by little, more of those people walk in your door. You’re not afraid to try things because they are there for you and your realness. It’s ok to say, “Hmm that didn’t work. Let’s try this.” And your true fans are there for it.

You might not get that rush of 100 people at your door on the day you open in your shiny newness. The ones that are meant for you will find you, one by one.

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Artists Educators motivation Training for success

Taking class is a skill

Anyone who is a leader of any kind, whether they teach classes, conduct seminars or coordinate a team, has the responsibility of preparing and showing up ready to connect and extend themselves, fostering an environment of progress and positive, focused energy.

Those attending classes as students have the same level of responsibility to show up and be open and receptive to the energy, to make the corrections given and accept critiques with a “thank you”, “got it” or nod.

Sometimes the universe hands us a bad day (or recently, year). What we do have control over is how we choose to improve our mood, whether it’s by reading or listening to something positive, or just reaching out to a friend with with an “ugh” and and eye roll emoji to get it off our chest.

Being a student is a skill. Giving back energy to those we take class from and with is a high priority skill. The mood we bring into the room is a skill. If we practice at it, we become great at being present no matter what the universe has handed us that day.