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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.

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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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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 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.

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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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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 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 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.