“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!

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“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

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“Something in the Water” by Joshua Beamish

Danielle Gardner Founder of Impact Dance Productions would like to introduce the first of many blog posts that will be featured on www.daniellelgardner.com.

Blogs will be posted by industry greats, casting agents, hair and make up specialist and many more inspiring people.
We hope you enjoy these blogs as much as we have enjoyed creating them!
Team Canada Choreographers Joshua Beamish and  Director Danielle Gardner
January 1st 2013:
The journey through a career in this industry is always unpredictable. Dancers move where the work is, opportunities come and go with hype and the threat of an injury, large or small, is always looming. Many dancemakers have their calendars planned out three years in advance, while other artists are expected to drop everything in an instant to obtain a shot at that lifelong dream contract.

My own career path is perhaps one of the least traditional I’ve come across, having started a professional dance company at 17. In just under a decade, I have already experienced so many genre shifts that I’ve come to realize that many of the students I’m currently working with have no idea that I started out just like them. While I always placed a strong focus on ballet, primarily through the training from my mother Loretta Lachner, there was nothing I loved more than jazz. I was a Triple Threat scholarship student, Kelly Konno was my number one idol and I was sure that I too would end up dancing for Janet Jackson one day. When I heard students getting excited about attending Triple Threat this year it reminded me of how much I gained from opportunities like my Triple Threat, Groove Street or Harbour Dance Centre scholarships. These organizations gave me access to teachers who challenged me with new vocabulary and they put me in a room with the best of my peers. Through Triple Threat I experienced a week of private musical theatre training at Randolph Academy and had the opportunity to attend their first ever Hawaii Dance Experience. My experiences at Groove Street paved the way for my time dancing in the Source Dance Company and Harbour Dance Centre went on to give me support to enable the realization of my first two professional productions. Above all, I most realize that these institutions and instructors taught me that my individuality was an attribute to be celebrated. They made clear that my greatest offering to the dance world was the unique nature of an artistry that was particular to me. I haven’t forgotten this, as this truth has taken me to places I never expected possible.

In the years that have followed I gradually pulled away from the studio and competitive world, creating just a few solos and judging the odd competition. The demands of running my company simply required a complete focus. Everything else in my life took a back seat.
Since my relocation to New York I have ironically spent more time invested in outreach work with BC’s young dancers than ever before. The formation of our annual MOVE: the company Summer Intensive, in addition to creating works for Team Canada and Richmond Academy, reignited a passion for exploring the creativity and capabilities of young artists. In the past year I’ve actually found myself seeking out opportunities to have a hand in opening the minds of the next generation of professional artists. It’s steadily growing into a passion that equals my love for directing professionals.
I believe that there is something so uniquely special about the training of young dancers in British Columbia. Many of my greatest collaborators were groomed in BC’s local schools. One only needs to mention Crystal Pite, Tiffany Tregarthen, Simone Orlando, Celine Gittens and Amber Funk Barton among counless others, to realize how much incredible talent has emerged from the BC studio system. I’ve often wondered what it is that keeps BC consistently producing such evolved young artists. Is the importance placed on ballet training without the tunnel vision focus that it’s the be all and end all of dance? Is it the fact that we still have dance festivals and The Provincials, as well as the dance competition circuit? Is it that we’ve had so many truly great local success stories who’ve undeniably made it, and yet still return to BC to give knowledge and inspiration back to the next wave of movers.
It’s certainly some combination of these factors, among others, but I think that the real secret is that our dance studio ecosystem in BC celebrates the individuality of youth. Children are taught to dance in a group but allowed to grow as soloists. They are taught formalized techniques but are also exposed to improvisation. They are even often encouraged to enter student choreography and music interpretation categories at the festivals.
When I teach in BC I come across far fewer TV dance emulaters than I do anywhere else. This doesn’t mean they altogether ignore widespread mainstream influences, but it does illustrate that they know how to turn off stylistic conventions when asked. Danielle Gardner and Jeff Mortensen, two dancers who move between concert and tv dance careers including contracts with my own company, are perfect examples of artists who deftly balance commercial interest and artistic integrity. In truth, I respect that ability more. After all, being a chameleon is the only way I manged to fund a year of my contemporary dance company’s activities by taking a roles in commercial projects, not least of which being in a Nickelodeon TV movie musical with Kelly Konno.
Thank you for reading
Impact Dance Productions