“IT ALL STARTS WITH CONFIDENCE” by Christie Manning

Impact Dance Productions is pleased to feature Christie Manning the Creator and Editor-in-Chief of Industry Dance Magazine!

Please Enjoy!

“IT ALL STARTS WITH CONFIDENCE” by Christie Manning

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With 175 + dance studios just in the lower mainland, there are hundreds of thousands of dancers, just in BC alone, leaving their home studio every night with the wish of becoming a professional dancer one day. With the competition being so stiff, how do you set yourself apart? It all comes down to one thing: Confidence.

Before you nod your head and say, ‘Yeah yeah, I’ve heard that before,’ really listen to what I have to say. I want you to think about some of the best dancers you know. What makes them so good? What really sets them apart? Is it the fact that they can do nine pirouettes into a front aerial and land in the splits? Not necessarily. I know some incredible breakers that can’t do nine pirouettes, unless it’s on their head. It’s not the tricks. It’s not their cool hair style, or tattoo down their arm, or even their Free City sweatpants. It’s their confidence.

Every strong dancer knows they aren’t the best, but they know they’re not the worst either. Many dancers suffer from a strong sense of ego, and not in an arrogant way. Most suffer from it more in a self deprecating kind of way. Thinking “I’m not good enough” is coming from a place of ego just as much as “I’m the best” is, it’s just on the opposite side of the scale. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging that you’re talented. Read that again. There is NOTHING wrong with acknowledging that you’re talented. It’s how you present and conduct yourself with that knowledge that matters.

1. Don’t put others up on a pedestal.

Putting your teacher, your choreographer, TV stars, or even your fellow dancers up on a pedestal just keeps you at a place of ‘less than’. You are not worth less than them, are not less than them, just because you think they are stronger, better, more experienced than you. Their training or experiences do not lessen YOUR value. They may be further along their career path than you are, but everyone was where you are at one point along the way.

2. Everyone’s path is different.

One of the most frustrating things in a dancer’s career is that there is no one way to get to where you want to go. There is no diploma or master’s degree you can take that’s a surefire path to success. Every single artist will take different steps towards the career they would like to have. Therefor, it’s also one of the most beautiful things about our career. We have the option, the power, the opportunity, to shape our own career and lifestyle. There are hundreds of thousands of paths we could choose to take. By being confident and understanding who you are as an artist, you can make the appropriate steps towards the future you would like. It will be different from the dancer standing beside you. And it should be.

3. Don’t compare.

One of the most damaging things an artist can do is compare him or herself to others. This will never create anything positive. It is extremely unhealthy and a complete waste of time. You can idolize someone as long as you’d like, you will never be them, no matter how hard you try. And thank god. You will never be as good as the are, because you aren’t them. You are YOU. Why be the second best version of someone else when you could be the best version of yourself?

4. Figure out who you are.

Understanding who you are and where you fit in can be one of the most difficult processes a dancer will face. But what comes with the discovery can be career changing. It is a dancer’s responsibility to figure out what they are passionate about, and where they fit in with in the industry. What makes your heart the happiest? Working with a contemporary company, being on set, touring with an artist? Then ask yourself the hard questions. Do I have the body type and the skills to do what I want to do? If not, where would my body type and skills be most valued? Your goal is to match the two together.

5. Don’t let what you can’t do, discount what you CAN do.

You have skills you have been working hard on your whole career. Just because someone else has skills you don’t have, doesn’t devalue what you DO have. Be confident in the skills that you have. Know what you’re good at, and own it with all your being. Continue to train, work hard, and always be open to learning and growing, but be proud of your accomplishments. The strongest artists out there know what they are capable of, understand their value, and represent themselves as such.

At the end of the day, you just need to remember one thing: Be the best version of yourself. In an industry ( especially in Canada) where there are more artists than there is work, you must remember to keep the focus on yourself. Don’t be distracted by who is doing what, when, where, and how. All you need to focus on is what YOU can do, where YOU want to go, and how YOU are going to get there. Friends and colleagues will come and go, but the relationship you have with yourself is the most important. And that relationship should come with a side of confidence.

Christie Manning- Editor and Chief of Industry Dance Magazine

Blog made possible by Danielle Gardner Founder&CEO of Impact Dance Productions

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER @IMPACTDancePro

http://www.daniellelgardner.com

Confessions from an Audition by Alexandra Crenian

This Tuesday  Impact Dance Productions is featuring a blog post by Toronto based dancer and choreographer Alexandra Crenian! She has worked in the dance industry for many years and has great knowledge of the audition process. Alexandra crushes her competition by not only being fierce but also by being humble, which has lead her to perform with idols such as the one and only Lady Gaga!

Confessions from an Audition by Alexandra Crenian

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Let’s start with what happened…I walked in the door to the theatre and immediately asked one of the auditionees, “Could you tell me what room the casting is in?”  The Auditionee looked me up and down, put her hand on her hip, scoffed loudly and walked away, laughing (she was muttering some sort of rude sentence that I can’t even remember.)  Luckily, a happier, more polite human being showed me the correct room.  I can only assume that she thought I was a ‘competitor.’  Unfortunately for her, I was not only on the casting panel, I was also the choreographer.  Not only was it incredibly embarrassing for her when she realized her error, it was uncomfortable for everyone in the room who witnessed it.  Needless to say, she didn’t get the part.

        If that auditionee had truly believed in herself, she wouldn’t have felt the need to be rude, nor the need to compare herself to a stranger.  She had demonstrated a form of bullying to psych out her competition.  Not only can a bad attitude ruin your opportunities before you even get in the audition room, but it simultaneously lowers your own self-esteem.  There is no need to compare yourself to anyone else.  Chances are, even if you don’t book that particular job, you will at some point book something with other people in that very room.  If you are rude to everyone, no one will want to work alongside you.  When a person is hired for a job, they spend 8 or more hours a day with the same people.  No person would knowingly hire anyone who brings an air of negativity with them, that energy is contagious. It brings down the group.

How can a performer (or anyone) help themselves from becoming bitter and negative in professional situations? Work on yourself.  Don’t compare yourself to others, there are many qualified, talented people out there… someone else’s talent doesn’t discredit yours.  Truly confident, happy people are more willing to help others, collaborate and keep a positive energy in the room.  It’s such a small world, chances are if a person is hired once and represents themselves professionally, with a great attitude, they will continue to be hired by the same choreographer/director.  The goal shouldn’t be booking the one job, it should be creating a professional relationship by showcasing yourself and how you treat others well.  Thus ensuring you will be rehired in the future.  It is also important to realize, you never know who anyone is or who they’ll become: don’t judge them.  Most of the time, we aren’t aware of anyone’s story but our own.  The reality is everyone has had, or will have, multiple difficulties in their lifetime.  To feel like the universe owes you something because you’ve had a hard time will lead to disappointment.  Preparation, research and hard work is the key.  There is no short-cut.  The person you are competing against for a role today may end up being a person that hires you tomorrow, or vice versa.  Kindness and honesty is rare, but is very much appreciated and remembered.

Have hobbies outside of your career, when your art form becomes your income, you’ll need other outlets.  Reading, knitting, sewing, yoga, playing a musical instrument, writing… all of these are examples of  creative outlets that leave you feeling accomplished.  Staying committed to your goals, no matter how small (i.e. setting your alarm for a certain time, and actually waking up at that time) build your self confidence.  A personal favourite of mine, is to make lists: lists of goals, short and long term, grocery lists, to do lists.  The small act of crossing off what I’ve accomplished leaves me feeling exactly that, accomplished.

        The next time you’re at an audition, know that the only thing you have control over is yourself.  Your actions define who you are, how you feel about yourself, and how you regard others.  Remember the reason you love what you do and that we are truly fortunate to have the opportunity to do it.

Blog made possible by Danielle Gardner, Impact Dance Productions and Alexandra Crenien.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @IMPACTDancePro

http://www.daniellelgardner.com

Gratitude By Anonymous

Impact Dance Productions has been gifted with a beautiful blog about pure gratitude from an anonymous writer. Taking the time out of our busy lives can really help change the lives of the young and the old. After reading this blog you will see how taking the time to nurture someone can ease all pain big or small.

Please enjoy!

Gratitude for Great Dance Teachers

By a Winnipeg Dance Mom*

Last year my nine year old daughter was excited about enrolling in a hip hop workshop at her dance studio, but as we entered the building she was overcome by a tidal wave of panic:  what if she wasn’t good enough? What if the guest teacher didn’t like her?  What if he embarrassed her?  What if she started to cry?  What if? She dragged me to the washroom and collapsed on the floor, sobbing and completely overwhelmed, and the workshop started without her.  It was a low point in our battle with child anxiety, a formidable foe which affects roughly one child in ten.

Last week, now ten years old, the same sweet girl emerged triumphant from her first big dance competition.  Six dances brought five high gold awards, a first place in hip hop, and second place in rookie small groups.  She was smiling from ear to ear.  I was, quite possibly, the proudest Dance Mom ever. This wasn’t just a regular dance victory; for us this accomplishment was doubly important.

So how did we get from there to here?  It has been a long road, and we certainly aren’t finished yet.  Keys to her improvement have included sage advice from a psychologist, great resource materials, fantastic classroom teachers, and especially her own hard work learning and practicing coping strategies; I am so proud of her efforts.  What I didn’t anticipate though was the role that dance would play in her progress.  What I wasn’t quite expecting was the tremendous influence of a few great dance teachers.

The culture of a dance studio clearly starts at the top.  Our director, Rheesa Schacter, was the first person with whom I discussed the anxiety.  She encouraged me not to push too hard because dance should be fun.  She suggested some strategic changes to the weekly schedule.  And during that hip hop workshop it was Rheesa who successfully coaxed my girl into the studio, stopping the class mid-way to personally introduce her to the teacher, and staying in the room until she was settled and having fun. Despite a million competing demands Rheesa finds time to pull my child aside and praise her strengths, or grab her for a quick hug in the hallway.  As a result, my little one knows she is important and safe in this studio.

Brittany Silverstein, a talented second year university student, introduced us to competition.  Her face lights up when she’s with her dancers; she laughs easily and treats them with such respect.  Confident in a recreational dance she choreographed last spring, Brittany entered it in two local competitions with Rheesa’s blessing.  I’ll admit that I was nervous.  The opportunity to dip our toes into competitive dance with Brittany was a good test.  Her contagious confidence and enthusiasm fueled my daughter to succeed – and a new competitive dancer was born.

It is hard to find words to sufficiently thank Jessica Smith, the 19 year old jazz teacher.  When I first spoke to her about the situation, she gave me her full attention and said “Thank you for telling me.  Please tell me exactly how I can help.”  Her kindness, patience, and encouragement have exceeded my wildest expectations.  When my daughter is too overwhelmed to step into the classroom, Jessica warmly welcomes her to join whenever she is ready.  Her corrections are firm but kind so that all the dancers leave with their self-esteem intact.  She has a natural talent for dealing with anxiety; she doesn’t just say that “everything will be okay”, but reviews the evidence with my daughter (“you’ve shown me that you know your dance, you’ve incorporated your corrections, your last rehearsal was great”) so that she is able to conclude for herself that it really will be okay.

Everyone knows about Mama Bear Syndrome.  If you threaten her cubs you put your life in danger.  But the converse is surely true:  adults whose hearts are open to helping vulnerable children will likely find themselves showered with gratitude and love usually reserved for family members.  There is nothing I would not do to thank these gifted teachers and kind souls.

Researchers have found that the very act of dance can have a positive influence on anxiety; this makes sense, particularly in a girl like mine who pirouettes across the kitchen and chassés down her school hallways.  Paired with amazing faculty like ours, we have learned that dance is truly a healing force.

*Identities withheld, at the request of the dancer

 Blog made possible by Danielle Gardner Founder & CEO Of Impact Dance Productions

Twitter – @IMPACTDancePro