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Artists Business creating Dance Dance and Social Media motivation Technology

Ch-ch-changes

Time may change me

Any change will make someone in your audience unhappy. Not changing at all makes you “stuck in your ways”, and maybe they seek out something new and shiny.

There’s an integrity to holding on to tradition. There’s a reason it is done this way and it works.

There are also things that can make us reluctant to moving forward and making changes: reluctance, stubbornness, fear, laziness, feeling overwhelmed.

We need to find ourselves in that middle place, where we don’t listen to every piece of advice thrown out there, but we don’t want to throw walls up the instant somebody is offering new options and directions to move in. It takes more time and critical thinking to find a path that feels right.

A tendu will always be a tendu and a shuffle is a shuffle. It’s right or it’s not. The possible platforms and modes of delivery, though, are constantly changing, and the question of whether to move with them or not does not have a binary, yes/no answer.

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Artists Dance Goals Training for success

You can take it with you

Well-designed monuments, theaters and marketplaces have lasted thousands of years. Ancient Roman architects created structures to withstand nature and time.

As we embark the next year, the memories of the last year will start to fade away.

The one thing that we can take with us, always, is our technique. We can build technique that withstands nature and time, with persistent practice and attention to every detail. The pros still stand at the barre daily, trying to perfect their tendus.

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Business Careers creating motivation productivity

Onward

Well, we are definitely happy to say goodbye to 2020. With all the tragedy, heartbreak and loss, we had to find solutions to keep working and stay connected in healthy ways as all of our lives were upended.

Here are some takeaways from my challenging year:

  • When ‘business as usual’ isn’t possible, nimbly pivot, keep moving forward and whenever something’s not working, readjust and keep going.
  • Paying attention to all of the noise on social media is a choice. Shutting it down, turning away and unfollowing those who prove toxic is a better choice.
  • What’s right for others isn’t and doesn’t have to be right for you or me, even if it seems everyone is flocking to them and not us.
  • Routine is especially essential, even when it all seems upside down. Wake up. Make breakfast. Read. Start on the to-do list. Practice. Lunch. Work. Dinner. TV. Sleep. Repeat.

Here’s to a new year of new opportunities and possibilities.

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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.