Be positive. Be confident. Aim high.
“Dancers work and live from the inside” states Murray Louis.
Beyond technique, the main role of an artist is to express deep emotions through the art. By definition, artists are extremely sensible human beings, which allow them to touch the audience. However, they are also more likely to experience self-destructive behavior due to this hyper sensibility and to their own perception of themselves and life in general as an experience. Thus developing and enhancing their self-esteem and confidence seems to be a must in order to be successful in their art and in their lives.
A dance student is an individual who is in the process of learning in order to achieve a goal: reaching excellent skills in matters of technique, musicality, and artistry. Commitment, dedication, and passion all together are the keys to a long career but not only. Dance is a particular art form in a sense that it requires both physical and artistic abilities as much. As an artist and an athlete, you have to be healthy, strong and flexible, but you also have to be in a state where you are able to give everything you feel in your loins no matter what. The training is every day, even when you are a professional since there is no specific ‘season’ like athletes: you have to be here take class, look at yourself in the mirror for at least one hour and a half wearing tight fitting clothes, and do your best to embody as many corrections as you can. Even if the aim is to dance something specific for a performance, for instance, it is only through repetitions of correct movements during dance classes that you can improve. It is only through hundreds if not thousands of repetitions that the dancer may see improvement. Indeed, you have to understand the correction correctly in your mind, and then apply it in the movement through an understanding of your own body and your own biomechanical possibilities! You cannot allow yourself to be affected by a teacher or a peer’s judgment/ opinion about yourself: you are here to take on the corrections and work on it. Moreover, during performances, the dancer has to deal with stress and anxiety in order to perform and yet still use his/her full range of abilities. Besides the artistic environment can be quite negative as well as it is common to depreciate or complain about oneself: if you are too modest for example, it is seen as normal; but if you are too positive about yourself, you are likely to be seen as vain. Mental toughness is thus essential so as to be able to cope with all these thoughts and negative ideas about the dancer-self.
“Thoughts directly affect feelings/actions” says Jean M. Williams.
So as a dancer, you will react upon the way you feel and talk to yourself, and this reaction will be through your actions, your movements and thus the way you dance. The internal sensation is as important as the external form because it will reflect directly on this sensation, created by your emotions. Therefore it comes with no surprise that negative thoughts about your own self added with a lack of confidence can be extremely complicated to deal with if you truly desire to improve. Developing a positive mindset seems to be another aspect of the training which is as important as technique or musicality or even artistry! Indeed, the mental aspect of a dancer is as determining as the dancing. This mind-body relationship is crucial to succeed and is to be practiced. Therefore, in order to know how to use self-esteem and confidence in a positive way, it is necessary to know where it comes from and understand how it functions.
This is the reason why the source and the functioning of self-esteem in relation to the mind and thoughts will be developed in the next article of the section Inner Well Being!