When you think of what a great dancer looks like, you may see a graceful ballerina who glides across a stage with poise, a tap dancer with clear, crisp sounds or a jazz dancer with sharp arms and straight lines. In my opinion, and many of my colleagues, a GREAT dancer possesses so much more than excellent technique. A great dancer has a great attitude, and is confident and prepared in addition to their excellent technique. Maybe you have great technique but you cannot take criticism or have poor sportsmanship? Often times when getting ready to move up to the next level, a dancer may be held back due to their attitude, class absences or inability to correct critiques/ pick up choreography rather than their actual dance ability. Something that Ed Mylett, a world class achiever, says often that sticks with me is "What got you here will not get you there". What does that mean? Whatever got you to the level you are at now will not be good enough to take you to the next level. If you are looking to become stronger whether it be in dance or in another sport, you cannot continue to do that same exercises expecting to grow. You must be doing more than you are currently doing to get to the next level....but more of that in next week's podcast. Let's get to the foundation of what makes a great dancer!
1) A great attitude: Your attitude is SO important if you want to take your craft to the next level, whether it's dance, soccer, playing chess, etc. What does it mean to have a great attitude? It means...
- You are on time. No, not just on time...you show up early, are warmed up and prepared for class
-You are respectful to team mates, coaches, parents and yourself
-You are dressed properly in whatever uniform/ attire is required of you and eager to learn
-You possess a strong work ethic. You don't slack off, always give it your all and go the extra mile
2) Excellent technique: This can mean so many things. A poised and graceful ballerina may not be the best tap dancer. While I think it's important to take different styles and have a basic understanding of each style; if your goal is to become a professional ballerina, your sole focus would be on ballet, Pilates, yoga, maybe a little contemporary or jazz but not much time would be left for tap classes...and that doesn't mean you're not an extraordinary ballerina. Whatever style you choose to pursue, you want to take many classes and perfect that craft by taking any class that will help you excel...but I assure you that the BEST ballerinas have also taken a tap class or two in their life.
3) Confidence and preparedness: I put these two subjects together because to me, they are one and the same. To be confident, you must be prepared and if you are prepared you will gain more confidence. Being prepared for class means you have your proper attire/ dance shoes and hair appropriate to learn without distraction. You work on combinations on your own so when you go into class you are ready to learn and continue to grow. To be prepared for an audition means you have taken many dance classes and mock audition classes, taken head shots, have a resumé and done research on the part you are auditioning for, company auditioning for, etc. "The best preparation for tomorrow is to do today's work extremely well"- William Osler
There are many different ways to be a great dancer and excel, however without the tools above you won't be among the best. Don't cut yourself short, always ask yourself whether or not you are doing your best or if you could give a little more. We should all take little steps to be our best and level up everyday!