One of the vibes I’ve picked up since submersing myself in dance is how self-absorbed people can be. The first time I picked up on this was at a masterclass I attended with a highly regarded choreographer. A lot of the dancers were trying to get the attention of the choreographer by pushing themselves to the front, presenting themselves as over confident. Now, I believe in order to succeed in the dance industry a dancer does have to exude confidence in their abilities and what they can bring to enhance the industry; however, there are people I have come across that have gone too far by putting others down to keep themselves afloat.
I have witnessed this first-hand at an audition I attended. I was a part of a group that was cut during the first round. After receiving feedback from the choreographer I overheard others dancers wondering why they were cut. They said things like “I was so much better than the other girl.” or “Why does she always get chosen? She’s not even that good.”
The time this self-centeredness really stood out to me was at a recent ballet class I was invited to participate in. Not only was this class the most advanced ballet class I’ve ever attended, but I was with girls who were a part of a full-time ballet program. They have been dancing as long as I’ve been involved in gymnastics. I knew I was in over my head, but I decided to give it a try. The moment I walked in the director of the program looked directly to my thighs and made a face. I shook it off, knowing that I am not the typical “ballerina” type, but when I walked into the room with the other dancers the first thing they did was look me up and down. I immediately became very aware of myself in a negative way. It was one of the worst days I’ve had dancing thus far, not because I was in a class WAY too advanced for me, but because the entire class I was being stared at by the other girls and being told upfront from the director that I was too big for contemporary dance.
I believe that the self-centeredness of dance is unfortunate because dance was never fully intended to be self-fulfilling. Don’t get me wrong, I think dance, like music, is something that makes the artist feel something they cannot feel otherwise. If dance is truly a calling, then there is some self-fulfillment that would come from pursuing it. However, when self-fulfillment is the only motivation to pursue dancing then I believe it becomes more difficult to keep the rawness of dance in the center for the sole reason that “self” gets in the way.
I think it is difficult not to cross the line into self-centeredness in an industry that is so focused on how talented a dancer is, how a person looks, or when who you know can be more important that what you know. But I think a SELFLESS dancer is more powerful than a SELFISH dancer. I will go as far to say that a dancer who is in the industry completely for their own satisfaction is disrespecting the art of dance. Art is meant to be shared with the world; dance is supposed to be shared with the world. If a dancer truly feels self-fulfilled through dance then I believe it is their OBLIGATION to put their focus and motivation on sharing that with others. They should let their love for dance overflow for others to enjoy it with them. Perhaps if dancers were more selfless then the comparison amongst the people of the dance industry would end.
One of the things I promised myself is that no matter how immersed I become in the dance industry, my fulfillment from dance will always come through sharing the art with others. Yes, I have personal goals and dreams I want to achieve, but my motivation will be to share my love of dance and contributing to the industry for others. Why would I want to keep something so amazing to myself?