From the time we start taking dance seriously, the focus is honed in on technique.
Your teachers help you to work out all the little technical details . The best teachers create an environment of dedication and improvement.
However, a lot of dancers are criticized for not applying corrections quickly enough. What’s the problem there?
Is that dancer absentminded? Lacking dedication or focus?
Oftentimes, if a correction is not getting applied quickly enough, it is either not understood or not prioritized (both by the student and teacher).
As dancers, we are the keepers of our destinies. By taking care of your body, being open to critique and correction and working hard every day you will get where you want to go.
It might take some additional focus on applying those things that you hear in class.
If you want to really get ahead, you should go above and beyond that endeavor. Consistently create additional personal benchmarks to make your improvements measurable.
This is where goal setting and accountability come in.
Most of us have been in a situation where it felt like a teacher just really didn’t like you for some reason. Those can be some of the most challenging, disheartening experiences.
When I was 14, I went away for my second summer program. For some reason, I was put into the highest level. I don’t think I was ready for that – at all – and apparently, neither did the New York City Ballet star my level worked with most closely.
This former NYCB principal dancer (we’ll call her Ms. M) was one of the people I was most excited to work with. I never had any Balanchine training so I was looking forward to experiencing her perspective and learning some incredibly beautiful Balanchine choreography.
It became clear on day 1 that Ms. M was not impressed by me. She would often single me out and give lots and lots of corrections in a very mean, degrading way. I was not totally alone in this. Ms. M was harsh in general and called out a number of ladies in my class quite meanly.
Then, there were her favorites. The ones who could do no wrong. Were they working harder than me? Applying corrections more quickly? Simply better?
I cried to my mother on the phone every day that I had class with her (which was almost every day of that summer program).
Ms. M threatened to demote me to a lower level. I secretly wished she would just so I wouldn’t have to take her classes anymore.
Yet, I was determined to win her over. Tis’ the plight of the determined dancer I guess. I tried to work harder. Then, I tried to not be seen.
Honestly, that experience informed a lot of my future confidence and actions as a dancer.
That was about 15 years ago now. Yet somehow, when I think back on it the pain is still quite palpable.
When I re – examine some of my dancing experiences after that summer, I see myself hiding. Doubting. Worrying.
This is where the importance of taking on responsibility for your own success comes in. You’ve got to assess yourself and work towards your goals, regardless of these sometimes negative, studio experiences.
Don’t let your dancing be defined or defeated by one persons opinion.
Luckily, I’ve had lots of different teachers over the years and many supporters. I’m glad I only dealt with such a defeating experience for four weeks.
That summer, I wrote down the choreography to every variation we learned.
What I wish I had done, was set some personal goals for myself. Then, I would have been empowered to focus on the work instead of the fear.
I would have found an outlet and turned my attention inward. This practice can counteract feelings of failure and help you stay aware of your big picture, your big goals and dreams.
Casey is a professional dancer AND business owner. She is a dedicated goal – setter and that practice is a big part of what has helped her achieve so much in her life and career.
We’ll discuss the basics of setting goals and the benefits and empowerment around this practice. You’ll get to hear the specific impact goal – setting has had on Casey’s sense of accomplishment.
There will even be a live Q & A session where you can speak to Casey and I directly and get your questions answered right there!
Photos of Casey by Luis Pons