Is Being a “Professional Dancer” an Achieved Status or a Mindset?

Hello everybody!

Today I want to address something important. This is especially important for all of my fellow dancers who are just coming out of a college dance program, or those who are only one or two years removed from undergrad.

See, in undergraduate dance programs, the professors and dance directors warn students that finding professional work is hard (Most do, but if not, than THEY SHOULD). They say the performer life is hard because a lot of professional dance company work (especially in NYC) is unpaid, or a stipend is the only compensation for MONTHS of time and energy put into rehearsals. They warn students they will hear more “No’s” then “Yes’s”. They even warn students that most of the time, they will be paid more to teach dance than to perform dance.

When young dance graduates find a company or dance project to work with, how do they handle putting in a ton of effort for little or sometimes no pay? Does little or lack of pay make what they’re doing any less “professional”? If the company someone dances for doesn’t offer benefits or a steady income, is she not as “professional” as someone who dances for a company that does provide those benefits and income?

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I’ve discovered a lot in this past year removed from undergraduate school. What I’ve discovered is all of what my dance director and professors warned me about is true. I’ve discovered I will see the same 60 people at every small contemporary/modern dance company audition because we all want the same jobs. I discovered I will pay more money to commute in and out of NYC to audition for jobs and companies that are not even willing to pay me even if I was hired.

However, I also discovered that the small companies and dance projects I work on require just as much time and energy as projects within a “bigger” company would. If I am working on a contemporary dance piece for a private, small company that requires unpaid weekly company class/rehearsal, and weekend rehearsals/traveling/shows, what separates the professionalism of that situation from a company who does the same thing but has a more well-known name (ie: Paul Taylor Company, Alvin Ailey)?

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Is it because more well-known companies are established and have a historical legacy? Yes, that probably has something to do with it. And it makes sense to feel that way when people perform with a small dance company not many people have heard of. But, if I take myself and my work seriously, I will be viewed seriously. And if I am viewed seriously in my dance endeavors, why would I not be viewed as a professional? Even if I do not necessarily like the choreography I am dancing, if I keep my attitude towards it professional, I will act and be viewed as such.

The title “dancer” or “artist” in general is very unspecified. Just because someone doesn’t have a piece of their art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC doesn’t make them any less of an artist. If they are mentally and physically invested in what they are creating, they are a creator. They are an artist because they view themselves as one! Granted, if the opporunity arose to have art displayed in the MET or to dance with New York City Ballet for example, obviously those achievements are milestones in someone’s artistic career that should be celebrated. However, what I’m saying is not any one who makes artwork can call themselves an artist (although they did create something classified as artwork).

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A real artist or dancer (in my context) is someone who is investing most of their time and sometimes even most of their life to their craft. They are the people who are constantly in search of improvement and knowledge in their field, while simultaneously teaching others about their craft through sharing their craft with others and with their community. Their mindset is focused on consistently bettering their art.

Let me put it this way – the CEO of a Fortune 500 company doesn’t walk into work everyday thinking she or he cannot handle the day, and that their job responsibilities are outside of their skillset. No. The people who make it to CEO, CFO, principal dancer, company soloist, “professional”, etc. KNOW their worth and they KNOW their skillset. That is why they are in those positions. They believe they can handle whatever tasks are thrown their way because this is what their years of training, education, and experience has prepared them for. Even if someone is dancing for a small company and is not being paid as much as much as she would like to be or thinks she deserves to be, it is still an achievement and progress to have made it into a company after graduating a college dance program.

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In short, professionalism begins with the right mindset. The more someone believes they are a professional, the more they will begin to act like one. And once opportunities arise, even in small companies (or small art galleries!), the more it will reinforce the professional mindset. This mindset is what will bring someone to where they want to end up in their field (dance, art, business, whatever!).

Aim high, shoot higher. Don’t lose sight of who and where you want to be.

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You Are a Breathtaking Goddess from Heaven, and You Need to Believe it

Happy Sunday Leaps readers!

I was just hired at a barre studio (See Related below), and this journey to become a fitness instructor in the midst of all of the rehearsals for my upcoming show, and preparation for my time at the American Dance Festival has taught me A LOT.  Not only has it helped me sharpen up my time management skills, it has showed me how to embrace challenge with a positive attitude.

Related: Xtend Barre Training

You would think teaching dance and teaching fitness is similar, but to be honest, they are very different. Dance teachers probably have a better sense of rhythm and timing than non-dancers training to be fitness instructors, however, being an effective and consistent fitness trainer is a lot of work, even for experienced dance teachers.

At first, this task seemed really daunting to me – how can I balance all of these goings-on while trying to retrain and adapt my teaching methods for fitness, on top of going through a lot of personal challenges? I have come to realize pushing the limits of my body, mind, and my teaching capabilities is such a healthy and needed challenge for me. These are challenge I didn’t know I needed.

There is one teacher at the barre studio I’ll be working at who I really enjoy, and at the end of every class of hers, she tells us to hold our hands in “prayer” pose, close our eyes, and tell ourselves “You are a breathtaking goddess from heaven who kicked butt today”. This resonates so much with me at this time of my life. Yes, we are ALL breathtaking goddesses from heaven. Even if our biggest accomplishment today was getting out of bed when we didn’t think we could, we kicked butt today. We have ALL of the power to go and get whatever it is we want!

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At the beginning of 2018, I told myself my goal for this year is to take a lot of risks. In January, I didn’t know how I could handle any sort of risk that put me too far out of my comfort zone. The thought alone caused so much anxiety, it made me sick. Halfway through 2018, I faced unforeseen hard challenges already, and have a lot of challenges ahead of me. Now instead of thinking, “How the hell am I going to do this?”; I’m excited and think, “This is going to make me work hard and I am going to gain so much from this experience”.

There is so much good happening from me taking on a lot of challenges at once, and I’m starting to truly believe I am capable of accomplishing everything I want. I hope you all know you too are goddesses from heaven who are powerful, phenomenal, and capable of whatever it is you wish to be. Embrace your own challenges, and accept new ones even if you are unsure of the outcome. Do things that scare you, and be powerful! And above all else, don’t settle for something less than what you want. Because you have the power to make your situation better (you’re a goddess, remember?).

Enjoy your Sunday goddesses!

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Rockette Mini Intensive – I Was Invited!

Oh my gosh you guys! Life has been throwing me blessings on blessings this last month!

I’ve auditioned for the Rockette Summer Intensive (RSI) four times. I auditioned once when I was 16, once when I was 17, once when I was 19, and this year at age 22. I’ve been rejected from their summer intensive four times, and at this point I did not really think much of it because it is a VERY competitive summer program. I am not sure if this is true, but I believe I read that only 640 girls out of the 2,000 who audition every year earn spots for the summer. RSI also has a limited number of open spots because alumni who attended within the last 2 years do not have to re-audition, and have an automatic spot in the summer program available to them. Obviously, a lot of girls come back each year (because who wouldn’t want to dance with the Rockettes every summer?! Uhm, hello). Thus, it is very competitive and I didn’t expect to get in because I have been denied admission every year I auditioned.

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This picture was snapped in November 2017 when my dad took me into NYC to buy my first pair of La Ducas! ❤

Now although I was denied the initial summer intensive, by some twisted act of fate (or God working his love), I was invited to attend their “mini” intensive (RMI), which is a three day version of their five day summer intensive. I didn’t even know the Rockettes had a “mini” intensive available because it is not even listed on their website! Nor did I realize there was this opportunity for me! I can’t find much about RMI online, but what I did discover is that the mini intensive has less girls than the regular 80 girls for RSI. There is also no formal showing for RMI, I believe it is just a studio showing. However, I could be totally wrong because I do not know much about it and this is all assumption based on a few videos I saw online!

I am so excited I was invited I cannot contain myself! Unfortunately for me, I cannot attend because all of the mini sessions run concurrently with the American Dance Festival, so I will not be in the NY area to be able to attend! 😦 Of course the summer two HUGE dance goals of mine are finally tangible, they conflict. I guess that is just my luck!

Nonetheless, to have even been invited is really humbling. I’ve auditioned four times within the last six years, and now I finally have a small window of opportunity. This is the first time I was ever invited to this mini intensive, and I cannot believe they even asked me! All of my hard work seems to be paying off, and I cannot wait to see what life throws at me next!

It is so crazy to see these long term goals becoming reality. Im definitely auditioning again next year! I am so motivated to continue grinding and pursuing my dreams! Anything is truly possible!

xoxo

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Bible Verses to Help You Through Hard Times

Good morning everybody, happy snow day!

Whether you are missing someone you love, missing someone you’ve lost, hurting because of emotional or even physical pain, there always seems to be a bible verse to help guide us through our troubles. I don’t usually like to be too religious on my blog, but lately I’ve been dealing with a lot of what-ifs, and a lot of conflicting emotions, so here are four of my favorite bible verses that have been giving me strength. I hope they give you strength as well.

“The pain you’ve been feeling can’t compare to the joy that is coming”

Romans 8:18

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I’m going to start with Romans because St. Paul’s letter to the Romans has to be one of the most motivating and encouraging sections in the bible. If you haven’t read Romans, or if you aren’t familiar, there is so much in Romans that can be used to boost your own morale and deepen your belief in God.

“Blessed is she who believed the Lord will fulfill His promises to her”

– Luke 1:45

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When I am feeling overwhelmed by all of the what-ifs that are present in my life, I have to remind myself that God has a plan for me, and with patience, His plan will be made known to me. He will fulfill His promises to me, and everything is going to be okay.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love”

– Jeremiah 31:3

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This verse makes me feel safe, loved, and accepted by God. It reminds me to love with an unwavering heart, and reminds me that He loves me more than I could ever imagine. Through my many flaws and mistakes, He accepts and forgives and never withholds love.

“If God is for us, who could ever be against us?”

– Romans 8:31

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Probably my original FAVORITE bible verse I discovered when I went through RCIA bible study four years ago, this verse is also from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans (I told y’all it was motivating). This verse makes so many statements in it’s short, 11 words. If God is for us – for me – who could ever tear me down? Who could ever make me feel less than? This quote is applicable not only to oneself, but also to the special relationships we hold with others. We need not be afraid of the unknown because God is for us, therefore, whatever will happen will be what is right.

I hope these verses give you strength, and feel free to comment below your favorite and most comforting bible verses! ❤ I would love to know what they are, and to read them.

Enjoy this snowy day everybody, until next time

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2017 Year in Review

2017 had to be one of the best years I’ve had in a long time. I graduated college with two Bachelor’s, attended the American Dance Festival (which I always wanted to do!), landed some professional performance jobs, landed some great teaching jobs, invested a lot of time into my blog, went to Disney, got engaged!!, and I was basically able to get ahead on a lot of the goals I set for after college. I’d say 2017 was a very successful year, and one in which I will always look back on fondly.

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I am excited to see what lies ahead for 2018, and I think the new year will bring a lot of positive changes and good experiences. I am certain I will be persistant in the pursuit of my goals and dreams, and will not settle for anything less than what I want and deserve. 2017 was a year of dance, adventure, love, movement, and progress, and I resolve to make 2018 even better!

Did you have a progressive 2017? What are you looking forward to most in the new year? Let me know!

Xoxo

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