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Sunday, March 16, 2014

How to know when it's time to give up on dancing




To work and succeed in the dance industry is tough. It's one of the most competitive professions out there.  I give a hand to anyone that decides this as their path.

The flip side is that this world brings some of the most incredible joys and feelings of ecstasy that a human being could ever dream of.  But what about when the pain outweighs the joy?  As a dancer, when is it time to give it all up? To stop going to auditions, to stop living pay cheque to pay cheque, to stop training, to stop believing in the dream?

The thoughts and feelings go back and forth.  One moment you are on top of the world when called for the part and the next moment you are filled with bitterness and hopelessness, picking up those extra shifts at work wondering when you will ever get that big break.  The wavering feelings persist and the doubt sets in.

These struggles are real and yet if dancers were able to reframe their thought process, the journey may not be so difficult.  The truth is that being a dancer is not something one gives up. It is who you are.  It is something that is so deep and within you that even if you tried to stop, it would be impossible.  The human need you have to express through dance is a gift and cannot ever be taken away.  You never have to give it up because it's a part of you. It's breathing.  To give it up would mean not to breathe.

The industry tricks you into believing that it's the only world that matters.  That it's the place where stars are made and it's the only way to 'make it'.  Suddenly outside validation becomes more important than fulfilling the deeper need to move and express. Dancers feel doomed if they don't book that music video or that world tour after just a few years of trying and give up faster than they started.

Yet if dancers were to know that the very act of dancing is a journey within itself, a new light will shine and other opportunities begin to expand. There are so many other areas where dancers can thrive, feel fulfilled and contribute their gifts - from the world of heath & wellness, community development, education, science, psychology, and motivational speaking ... the list is endless. There are an increasing amount of areas where the skills and expertise of dancers are needed and can be utilized to innovate and bring forth new ideas, new inventions, and new ways of doing things. Basically, these are other ways of 'making it'.

This all boils down to a shift of thinking.  The sooner dancers can come to the realization that dancing is a deeper human need, the sooner permission can be given to move freely, to enjoy the process, to detach from the end result, and to discover parts of themselves they didn't know existed. "Giving up" then is no longer an option and what's left is the essence of an unstoppable, moving and magnificent spirit.

And that is what makes it all worth it.

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18 comments:

Shannon Haines said...

Thank you! amazingly said.

Miss Kim Dances said...

Well said, and a valuable lesson that all dancers should learn.

red soriano said...

Thank you! :)

Vonleho Villablanca said...

The truth is that being a dancer is not something one gives up. It is who you are. after I've red this message, i'm beginning to start dancing again... huhuhuhu i really2x love to dance even if i am alone or @ the stage with some random citizens watchin how i groove... thanks for the inspiring message..

Robert gerongco said...

that was beautiful.

THE 411 said...

thank you is all i could thnk to say. thank you !

kuya thegroup said...

such an important message for the dance community. let's support this movement!

projectpq said...

Thank you so much for your words. We dance with fire and I work with professional dancers. I would never give up...also at the moment there is not much work in Germany. But I will survive and don't stop...

Nellie Bethel said...

so true!!! I have struggled with this as well, and i had to reach this conclusion myself, and step out of the industry to actually start moving freely again. I forgot to dance to express, and it had become my paycheck. Now i say yes to more fulfilling work, theater, musicals, and i dont have to stress about my next paycheck every day. <3 thank you for speaking up!

euorpean capital of culture 2008 said...

I am very grateful for people like you, who support dancers who have their doubts. There are so many ways of bringing the experience dance gives to the world at large. Not just stagework and Training. Dancers can pass on to every class of life, the feeling and joy experienced in knowing when mind, body and soul unite to express onesself. Carry on the good work.

euorpean capital of culture 2008 said...

I am very grateful for people like you, who support dancers who have their doubts. There are so many ways of bringing the experience dance gives to the world at large. Not just stagework and Training. Dancers can pass on to every class of life, the feeling and joy experienced in knowing when mind, body and soul unite to express onesself. Carry on the good work.

Patrick Corrales said...

That was totally inspiring! I loved every word you said. Do check out a similar post I wrote: http://pepesamson.blogspot.com/2013/09/why-i-dance.html

Erika Lee said...

So well said. I have always had this nagging feeling that I stopped dancing too soon. I was 22 had torn my ACL and had other injuries and was afraid I would not be able to get a job. I left to go to law school. Dance brought me the most joys (next to my children) and I have wanted to get back to it. I decided to try teaching and I am thrilled. I am 40 and it took me a while to get back but as you know, once dancing gets in your blood it never leaves.

danamdkny said...

I have found that with the abundance of overspilling un/under-employed dancers into said related fields that the competition there is fierce as well.

Melissa Roy said...

I was never a professional dancer but took classes regularly up until I became a mommy. The need and desire to dance never goes away even as you fill your days with other joys (though there many similarities between being a dancer and being a mommy! http://www.beyondmommying.com/blog/2013/02/25/mommying-is-like-dancing-and-drugs/)

Carlos said...

Thank you for your article, Janet. You made me think of my great aunt Marthe, who also was a dancer. Her professional career started at the age of fifteen and lastet long enough for her to make a name for herself. After the second world war she settled down as a ballet teacher and taught until the day she died at the age of 90.

Like you said, dancing is a deeper human need. All expression of humanity is. Give up expression and you give up an important part of who you are. Just do not do that.

JanetLCastillo said...

Thank you everyone for stopping by and sharing your feedback!! Your stories are so inspiring and make me want to continue dancing.

I'd love to hear more from you and invite you to join in on a special inspirational dance project I have coming up in the next few days. Follow me on twitter to hear more:)

www.twitter.com/janetlcastillo

#foreveradancer

Janet

Scott Campbell said...

I photograph dancers, having given up on shooting models as a creative outlet (http://scottcampbell.nl/#/gallery/dance-outdoors/2012-stephmitro0524-print-copy/) and now I know why I enjoy it so much - it is based on a shared journey, based on the "deeper human need" you mention. Well said.

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