It is so important for everyone but imho, especially important for dancers to set and work towards goals. Why is this so important for dancers?
Each day we go to the studio and stare at our reflection. Yes, the mirror is a tool blah blah blah, I know. In reality, we use it as a tool to see what’s wrong.
Then, we get corrections, which are constructive (or meant to be anyway) and take those on. Sometimes, once you’re in a company, you’re mostly left on your own. You’re expected to know what needs work and make it happen.
When faced with that challenge of personal evaluation, you might thrive. Or, you might start to wonder, “why aren’t they telling me anything?”. Then your mind starts to go crazy with the super negative, hyper – critical self talk.
This way of thinking can destroy your psyche and have a hugely negative impact on your dancing.
So how do you get around this struggle? Set goals. Refer to them daily.
Pick the categories that are most important to you and add a couple that you think will be good for your overall well – being. Examples include: technique, career, body – image, physical activity (outside of dance), relationships, inspiration.
Now, start to set SMART goals for your 3 – month, 6 – month, 1 – year, 3 – year vision. SMART is an acronym for goals that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bound.
Don’t let yourself be stifled by the idea that your goals should be “attainable” and “realistic”. As dancers we can be so aware of the flaws that we’re not always open to our full potential or possibility. Definitely dare to dream and be as objective as possible.
When it comes to career, you may want to ask a trusted teacher who you feel supported by, what they imagine is possible for you. However, they don’t have a crystal ball so do not take their opinion for fact.
Teachers and Artistic Staff have a somewhat narrow lens of what they’ve seen to work. Their opinions might be based in old standards and they might not consider your potential for growth.
I remember when I was in college one of my professor’s saying he had never seen a dancer make major strides after age 25 – MAX! This totally took hold of my brain and I felt like the clock was ticking. O gosh, I only had a few years left to progress as a dancer.
Luckily, this is soo not true and in fact you can continue to grow and make major improvements to your dancing as you learn more about your body and the way of working and cross – training that works for you.
Ready to make your goals a reality? Here’s how:
Break your goals down into bite size action steps and work towards them each day. Keep a journal to chart your progress and to help you get any limiting beliefs out of your head. You may not achieve them all, but taking serious action WILL get you closer to your goals.
I honestly believe that if you have received good training and you work as hard as your body and mind allow each day, anything is possible for your career. It may require auditioning for companies you didn’t previously consider or moving to a city or state you never imagined living in.
Tenacity, drive and hard work can take you a long way but you’ve got to support yourself mentally.
In The Whole Dancer Program I’ve had the beautiful opportunity to connect with each participant one on one. There have been a number of resonant messages, among those is the fact that most dancers are “people pleasers”.
We want teachers, guest choreographers, and artistic directors to like us. That’s all find and good. There’s a place for that desire and to an extent, yes, someone has to like you for you to keep your job.
I hope that one of your goals is to dance for YOU. You will shine much brighter and gain more supporters and ‘fans’ when your love for this art radiates out of your face and body each day.
Photo: Lauren King, Soloist, New York City Ballet