Why Many Dancers Don’t Succeed

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This blog post is a draft from my new book on how to build a sustainable dance career.

I realize the title of the blog takes on a negative tone. I also realize it suggests that success is defined by something outside of us or that there is a particular definition of success.

The truth is: before we can achieve success, we need to define what success means to us.

Three years ago, I began researching (interviews & surveys) the habits, actions and mindsets of teens and young adults who enthusiastically head off to college or to a major city to launch their dance careers.

Many of them return home discouraged and defeated – in the end they give up and move on to something else.  This has led me to wonder – what is happening?

How could someone who’s passionate about dancing give up on his or her career?

I started conducting this research because I wanted to find out why:

  • Only a small percentage of dancers are able to achieve a satisfactory level of success.
  • Very few are able to create fulfilling and meaningful careers.

Dancers are extremely special people. We use our bodies to express what’s in our hearts. There’s nothing as magical, magnificent or as fulfilling as this.

We feel complete and are the happiest when we’re dancing.  So you can imagine that the opposite is true when a dancer ends up in a completely different career.

I know what this is like based on my years working corporate jobs.

Some of the obvious reasons dancers end up in mismatched careers stem from having:

  • Vague goals, lack of direction.
  • No vision, ill prepared.
  • Little self-discipline, work ethics
  • Poor money management skills.
  • Playing small as if they’re unworthy of anything good.
  • Immature, lazy or inappropriate mindsets and behaviors.
  • Passive and negative attitudes.
  • Gossiping, tardiness, and other bad habits.

Yes, these are definitely “no-no’s”, but what about the less obvious reasons? What about the deeper, more subtle and intrinsic aspects of our character?

What about those weaknesses that are harder to pinpoint?

I’m talking about the things that cause us to become a liability over time. It’s the things that perhaps a good friend would tell us about ourselves – those things that we might not have the maturity or courage to hear.

I have had the advantage of watching and interacting with thousands of kids over the past decade.

I see the subtle, yet significant mistakes they make. I see what holds them back and causes them to fall short of their aspirations.

They fall short NOT because they lack talent, but because they don’t recognize that they are limiting themselves with:

  • Poor personal accountability.
  • Failure to participate in and celebrate the success of others.
  • Being too self-absorbed, selfish, or arrogant.
  • Inconsistent personality or behavior.
  • Moodiness.
  • Laziness.
  • Negativity or cynicism.
  • Lack of courage, character, or integrity.
  • Excuses, self-pity, and complaints.
  • Inability to move on from the past and focus on the opportunities that are available in the present.

While these flaws go unaddressed, others notice them and make decisions or judgments that affect a dancer’s long-term career. How sad.

I have seen many talented dancers whose personality or character flaws override all their years of dance training.

Technical talent alone is not enough to succeed as a dancer.  Many dancers don’t realize that these areas of weakness are robbing them of their dreams.

We have to define success for ourselves. It’s not enough to say, “I want to be a dancer.” You’re already a dancer. Now what?

What do you want from your dance career?  What is your idea of success?

No one is perfect. We all have flaws and faults. Honest self-reflection is the order of the day.

We must be willing to learn more about our fundamental nature, essence and purpose. We have to pay attention to our conscious inner thoughts and dreams. Without this effort, it’s impossible to stay on the path to fulfillment and success.

Yes, we live in a culture that tells us and even encourages us to focus on “Me…me…me!” but it’s the dancer who learns to overcome this mindset and works on his or her weaknesses and limitations that is the one who gains a true advantage.

The dancer who learns to develop a character of integrity and has an all-around pleasant personality is the one more likely to achieve their goals in the dance industry.

“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche
“Success doesn’t come to you. You go to it.” ~ Marva Collins

I’m hyper, don’t have TV, and enjoy making all my own blog graphics.

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Gracias mi amigos.
Yours in love and dance, Laurie

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