Don't Do It Alone: Dancers Embrace the Power of Coaching

A week or so ago I was in the middle of an audition photoshoot with an incredibly talented dancer and we were just getting into the swing of the shoot when I stopped.  This is a rather common occurrence in my studio, whether we need to have a conversation about pointe shoes (that’s the case about 50% of the time), technique, or anything else that I feel might be inhibiting my dancers from getting the shots that they need, or looking at something that might be holding them back in their dancing.  If you follow me, you know that I was a dancer and a teacher before becoming a shooter, so it’s hard for me to separate those passions.  Let’s be honest, I don’t separate those passions at all.

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During the photoshoot, the dancer and I paused because we needed to talk about a few things that I felt might help this dancer in the next couple of months on her audition quest.  One was a strong support system that might possibly include a coach or sports psychologist or person that might be able to help her navigate her feelings, stresses and those stories that we all tell ourselves in order to make it through the day.  You know what I’m talking about.. the ‘well he’s amazing at turns because he doesn’t have the flexible legs that I have’ or the ‘I’ll never be the class favorite’ or ‘I need to have that doughnut because I got yelled at 6 times in rehearsal today’... we all have those thoughts that seem completely rational at the time but in hindsight are really hindering us from becoming the great dancers – and great people – that we are.

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So we talked about Olympic Athletes.  What is the difference between gold and silver?  What is the difference between making the team or not, when the margins are so slim?  Sometimes it’s that 1 square inch of real estate in your grey matter… how you think, what you think… ever wonder why so many high performing athletes have sports psychologists as part of their team?  Why is this not a regular part of a dancer’s upbringing, especially when the environment that they are growing in, due to the complexities and nature of the training, a hot bed for negativity?
I have recently started working with another coach.  You’ve probably heard me talk in the past about the marketing and business coaches that I’ve had the fortune to work with so that I could pass on that information to you.  This coach is personal.  I realize that the better I get at my work, the busier I get,  the less I take care of myself.  The more draws upon my time the more I’m pulled in many directions at once.  So I have put in place a team of people to help me: Anna my studio manager, Shawn and several wonderful assistants etc.. but what about me as a person?  I am realizing that I have no support in my personal world, not just people to help me stay on task, tidy my apartment, take care of my kids,.. my focus on my clients and family has left me with very little by the way of support for me as a woman.  So I’m now reaching out for it.  And I’m encouraging my clients to do the same.
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Most of you have spent years and years in the studio.  Money, time, energy, blood sweat and tears.. spent your time focusing on all the things that go into your craft.  Don’t forget the 1 square inch of grey matter that can make all the difference, get you over the finish line… get the support you need, whether it’s having someone hold you to account for doing the extra Pilates that you need to do 3 times a week, getting a private lesson to work on those turns that you feel  you are missing, or working with a coach to focus and move your thought patterns in a way that will be productive and serve you to be the best you can be.


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