How to lead yourself in the dance studio


Welcome to our first post of AwaDancingQueens!

This first piece is going to dive into developing a healthy mindset for you to grow as an artist and as leader of your own personal journey. Taking part in a dance intensive is a great experience to boost your dance technique. But did you ever think it could also boost your leadership practice/ leader-self also?!  We are all aware any dance intensive you might do across your training years has its challenges. You want to make the most of it, but it might be difficult to do so if your mindset is not quite right. So how do you lead yourself into the dance studio, to achieve your aspirations and grow as a dance artist and human being? If there is a uniform checklist ,why not a mental checklist to get ready for the experience you are about to have? Here I will share some tips on how to develop the right mindset for this. I hope that by putting them into practice your dance and your leadership abilities will become much  stronger.

Don’t isolate yourself
Often you’ll walk into your workspace not knowing anyone. Isolating yourself from day one is an instant mistake as having colleagues around you to bounce energy off of and to be inspired by will enhance your learning mind incredibly. These new people are unlike any group of dancers you’ve ever interacted with before. Place yourself in the headspace of this being your company for a week . You are part of a larger image of different experiences , cultures and thoughts all collated together into one group .
The variety of people and flavours they have to offer will drastically vary depending on people you work with so take advantage of this new experience. Just working on yourself will minimise the knowledge you go home with, by the amount of different people in your studio space. Learn from each other and be inspired. Be proactive with this. Make friends and introduce yourself. Think about how you would want to do this too. Body language is vital when being somewhere new. Don’t close yourself off, look present and friendly as then you will seem far more approachable. Likewise if someone does appear to be closed off in a space,  take initiative to be that leader to strive confidence into a person who lacks in confidence .

Leave your comfort zone
You aim to develop as an artist and as a human through any experience in life. To learn you have to be taken out of your comfort zone .  This is the best way to be a leader of your life but also for others around you.  Stand at the front of class , this conveys instant leadership without you even realising! Natural instinct is to follow the people at the front of class for musicality and guidance on steps. You are a surge of information to other dance artists around you. People will watch you from behind naturally. To be at front also means you have to lead your own journey.
Ultimately, testing your pick up ability as-well as your ability to intrinsically motivate yourself without the accessible view of others around you . Finding the confidence in yourself to know that you will be able to cope with the pressure of leading a class in this way is also a vital step in your leadership journey . As without this self -assurance, how will you be able to assure others? 
Similarly to this, challenge yourself to go first for an exercise in the corner. To really gain the most from your time on this course you need to activate your brain as well as your physicality. Fast pick up is a mental skill and one that is often neglected. Though is that the way to develop and improve? You want to be that first group the ones who have mentally progressed and said to themselves i will let people learn from me. Yes, you may not have completely nailed the exercise. But this drilling mindset is a start to faster pickup. To not rely on others to do the hard job. People will be inspired by you, at least subconsciously as your influence will echo into when they perform next . 

Help Others
Be vigilant in your workspace . It there is someone struggling with an exercise or just not going through an exercise. Don’t let them suffer in silence. If you are assured in your own performance then be selfless and give up your time for someone else. This is proactive leadership at its finest and generally a warm hearted thing to do. A teacher can’t get round to everyone and often people are too shy to ask. Having a peer to help is much more encouraging and far less intimidating. This person will forever be grateful for you for this. It’s always a nice feeling having this support even if it’s small and can often lead you to lifelong friends. No matter how small you have impacted someone’s life you’ve left your legacy. The people that left a mark most on me are the ones who’ve helped me in class at my lowest.

Push your Own Abilities
Always dance smart. It’s not always about physicality, if anything, mentality will be the most prominent factor in your life (as a dance artist and human being!) For example most exercises you think are strength based are more endurance based. It’s the endurance of doing one thing everyday that makes it becomes easy not particularly just physical strength. Don’t settle for the path that is right in front of you. Yes, you may be more comfortable doing single pirouettes from the corner but although falling out of a double or triple may feel embarrassing at the time but no one will remember this!. You, feeling embarrassment, is the only thing making your life more difficult. Go for the high goals, try for more pirouettes, as struggling momentarily is the only way to move forward. Without a battle or a fight there is no progression, you’ll be stuck in old habits for a long long time. This is about you and your development plan. Without trying for more pirouettes, you’d still be doing singles. You can translate this in many aspects of your class!

Question Everything
Be curious, ask questions! Always enrich yourself and rinse experiences from people who have lived different paths to you. Especially those who inspire you. If you love the teacher you have after class or before class ask them about their lives, how they got into the industry, what are their plans for the future or more specific questions to you. People love to feel appreciated for their work in the arts and asking them these questions make them feel special to this large industry too, as well as giving you knowledge and guidance on how you may want to approach life too. Having so many individual life paths  can give you clarity in what you want to do. Not even this but show you that there is never just one approach to being successful. In fact there is no successful,  there is just what’s right for you. Which will contrast person to person.
Asking technical questions in class is also crucial. These nuggets of information along the way will build up your dance dictionary too. Although the stats of the human memory is that after 24 hours you forget 70 percent of new information, being aware of these stats shows you that in class if you’ve had the biggest epiphany it’s likely not to stay in your memory!  To ensure you maintain this knowledge taking notes would  always be such a helpful tool. The best teachers I’ve ever had are ones that are wise and knowledgeable. They are incredible dance artists, they do have the most to give into an ever evolving sector. Take advantage and learn from them!

I hope this was an informative look on how to really get the most of these dance intensives. My main bit of advice is to enjoy every moment. Stop worrying if you got that step wrong!. Don’t go there to impress the teacher do it for yourself, to grow as a leader of your life and ultimately to positively impact others.

By Sky Cook 

Junior Ambassador 2021