'The Art of War' and Dance.. Food for Thought

Can you believe it’s the end of August already?!  We have been super busy this summer with a variety of photo shoots at the  studio and on location,  working with dance companies, doing commercial work, shooting dance audition photos and live dance performances.  The audition and marketing workshops for dancers were huge successes, and I have just returned from a shooting trip to San Francisco… whew, time for a break!
rachel neville powerful dancer photo
Andrea Wolf, Rachel Neville Photography
I hope you are able to catch some last R&R before the year begins again in the next two weeks.  While you’re heading out to the beach or enjoying the summer sun over the next two weeks, keep these thoughts in mind to stay sharp for the upcoming dance audition season.
One of the most important conversations we’ve been having with dancers lately about strengths and weaknesses and how important it is to be clear on where you are in your training or career so that you are taking the right steps to move ahead.
This is something that I do in my own business (and probably should do more often I’ll admit) and it is having a real impact on those of you who have been in the loop on this with me.  The things that consistently come up among auditioning dancers and mid-career dancers are not the physical things, like working on feet or turns or gaining more strength or turnout (although if those are a thing for you, get in touch with my friend Tanya she’s a dancer/trainer here in NYC who is helping a lot of you cross train to great benefit).  What I’m hearing about from dancers is the little guy sitting on your shoulder whispering those negative thoughts in your ear.. you know the one.. ‘you’re not good enough’ or ‘you can’t do this or that’ or ‘there’s no way you can compete with that perfect dancer…’
Tanya Trombly crossfit dancer
Tanya Trombly, Rachel Neville Photography
You know those thoughts, we all have them from time to time.  Can you imagine what your days would be like if you could quiet the negative thoughts?  How free and alive would you would feel without that  bogging you down?  I know our coaches and teachers can be tough, and in some cases down right cruel in the effort to get us to reach our best… but does that negativity have to have a lasting effect on us?  Is it not possible to pull out the best in ourselves without the constant crackdown?
This conversation came up for me again yesterday in a shoot with a dancer who had flown back from Germany to work with me.  Her family (present at the shoot) was so surprised that I was able to work with her in a kind (but make no mistake, I’m a blunt, tell-it-like-it-is person) but effective way to get her to give me her best.  It was so counter to what she experiences every day from her teacher.  This helped me understand why I seem to have so many dancers say to me after a shoot, something like ‘wow, you are so nice, I thought you would be, well, hard or mean or something.’  It always makes me pause and wonder why they’d think that in the first place…
So anyway, we talked at length  yesterday about how to cope with the negativity, and made plans for her to get more support and stay more in touch with the psychologist  that she is working with to counter the effects.  Does not the Art of War say that battles are won and lost on 1 square inch of real-estate … in our head??
Food for thought. Discussion to continue.
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