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What if we changed the concept of competition, comparison, and success in dance?

What if your thought process about someone else’s success had nothing to do with your potential to succeed? Their success is not your failure. Instead, it’s evidence that success in dance is possible.

Your current mindset…

If you’re doubting your potential to succeed or the fear of failure is leading you to question whether to continue moving forward towards professional dance, it’s time to assess and work on your mindset.

This current way of thinking also makes it very easy to get lost in comparison — whether you’re comparing your body or your abilities to those around you.

Your current environment…

You may not be the “favorite” in your current dance environment. That honestly has no bearing on your potential to succeed elsewhere. It also doesn’t determine what opportunities might be presented to you when you go out and audition at other schools or companies.

There’s a possibility that even if your dance school says they promote body inclusivity, they don’t. There are very deeply ingrained beliefs about what a body in dance “should” look like. You can’t ignore the potential that many, many people in dance have implicit bias towards bodies that don’t fit the ideal. Meaning their discriminatory casting or auditioning may not be a conscious thought process for them.

The fact that it may be unconscious doesn’t make it OK. It could just be a reason why they’re talking to talk but don’t seem to be putting words into real, inclusive action.

The teachers or artistic directors you encounter…

Finding the best teachers or company for you may take a few tries. This is something I think should be accepted and celebrated, but instead it’s looked down upon by many. Let’s let that go. Instead, allow yourself to explore various options and environments to find your best place to dance.

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The good news is, when you’re in a supportive environment, you’ll be encouraged to develop your dancing for yourself. Bring the focus back to your personal intention and inspiration for dance. 

Quick Tip: If you’ve been trying to start a journaling habit but have struggled to get started, try writing a daily intention. It can be your reason for dancing that day or how you’d like to experience your whole life.

Seeking approval or external validation isn’t inherently bad. However, if it’s your primary motivator to dance, it’s time to work on shifting your focus.

Your Definition of Success

The thing about success is we often define it by someone else’s standards for what it is. In the dance world, we hear accolades for the big stars and well-known names who usually dance for one of a handful of top companies. In your young dancing brain, you equate that with success.

Then, when that outcome starts to feel unreachable, you tell yourself you’ve already failed. So, shift your perception of success. For most dancers, the love for dance is what drives you. Make the goal simply having a space that allows you to dance as much as you wish.

By that definition, success could mean dancing with any size company from the smallest professional companies to even more recreational dance outlets. Maybe teaching will be the path that allows you to dance all day. Start now to release other people’s definitions of success, and dig deeply into yourself and your motivation to discover what path in dance really will bring you the most joy, fulfillment, and happiness.

Take Action:

Spend some time writing about your personal vision for success. Start by getting clear on people, places, or experiences that have shaped what you currently tell yourself success “should” look like. 

Then, tune into yourself. Block out the noise from your peers, society, the dance world, and the concern for what others might think. Answer these questions:

What lights you up? 

When are you most at ease?

Who do you want to be surrounded with?

How can you bring passion and purpose together?

Where do you feel most at home?

Why are these things important to you?

Need support finding clarity on your path in dance? Sign up for a free coaching call where I can coach you through it. As a multi-certified coach and former pro dancer, I’ve been exactly where you are. Let’s carve out your clear path together.

Competition, Comparison, and Success in Dance

Jess Spinner

Jess is a former professional ballet dancer turned Holistic Health, Nutrition, and Lifestyle Coach for high level dancers. She founded The Whole Dancer in 2015 after identifying a greater need for balance, wellness and support in the dance world. Since The Whole Dancer was founded, Jess has worked with 100's of dancers worldwide at top companies and schools. She has been featured in or written for Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher Magazine, Pointe Magazine, and Dance Spirit Magazine.

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