Handling Rejection as a Dancer by Sheri Leblanc

You gave the audition your all, but you didn’t get a call back.You nailed every bit of choreography at the academy tryouts, but the instructor did not like your style.

You sang and danced your heart out, but your name did not appear on the cast list.

Can you relate to any of these?

Well, if you have experienced any of these, congratulations! You are well on your way to becoming a true performer. If not, it’s time to get a preview of that nasty little thing we all have to face at one point or another… rejection.

Sure, it hurts to be told you are not right for the part, that you are not good enough or that you will not be joining the cast of a show. But these experiences are good for you… if you deal with them the right way.

You are Not in Control.

There are many factors that go into selecting one individual for a role over another. Just like in acting, often your skill has little to do with these factors. It’s like rolling dice – you may just end up with the wrong number. For example:
The producer of a show may be looking for a specific look, a certain height, hair color, style of dance, etc. 
Those in charge might need to hire someone related to an advertiser, a relative or someone who will bring money or publicity to the production.
The point is, even if you do a killer audition, you may not get the part due to one of these outside factors, not your actual performance. If you were better than most of the the other dancers there, you probably gave a great audition. 
Move On.

Let’s say you really had your heart set on a particular part and practiced for hours. The big day came, and you flubbed your big shot at stardom. Don’t worry. It happens to all of us. Keep in mind that there will be other opportunities, and this one just wasn’t meant to be. There are roles for everyone. What counts is being prepared for when the right one comes along. If you don’t get a part, try not to dwell on it.

Grow a Thick Skin. 

When the audition is over, give yourself a set time to be upset about it, and then let it go. There is no reason to dwell on your bad experience. Learn from your mistakes and move on. Continue to work hard and improve your dancing and it will pay off eventually.

If you are a sensitive person and want to be a dancer or performer, it’s time to get tough. Show business is called a “business” for a reason. You are going to have to deal with many let downs, bad auditions and nasty people in your life. But instead of letting them get to you, use this negativity to make you stronger.

Develop your confidence by improving your technique and practicing your skills. Surround yourself with a positive support network and read or watch media that will help you feel good about yourself. You may event want to try taking a lower level class to remind yourself how far you’ve come and how much better you are than beginning dancers.

Hang in There.

Yes, it can be very difficult to deal with rejection when you are first starting out. And unfortunately, there will be many peers and so-called friends who will not want to see you succeed. Don’t concentrate on them, concentrate on yourself and your own strengths.

Go to as many auditions as possible. It will help you feel comfortable with the process and what you have to offer.But instead of letting all the rejections get to you, use this feeling to increase your drive to succeed. Work a little harder and learn from your audition mistakes. Brush yourself off and start over again.

Life is full of disappointments, but you can learn to use them to your advantage.

Eventually, your hardships and hours of practicing at the studio will pay off.

Sooner or later, you will win a role, and others will go home rejected wondering why you and not them!

The World Dances is pleased to include this insightful advice from Sheri Leblanc in our e-newsletter.  You may read more of Sheri's writings on her fabulous blog Reflections in Sequins and Satin.     

About Sheri Leblanc:

Sheri Leblanc is a retired professional ballet dancer, 3rd generation ballroom dancer, choreographer, part time instructor who divides time between Louisiana and California. Sheri inherited her love of dance from her grandmother and her cousin, a famous dancer/actress named Virginia McMath, aka Ginger Rogers and she strivea to help preserve the history and art of dance. Dancer, performer and choreographer in different facets including conventions in New Orleans and Los Angeles, national commercials and musical theatre. 

Sheri has choreographed works for the University of New Orleans, Tulane Summer Lyric, Tulane Junior Lyric, Rivertown Repertory Theatre, Le Petit Theatre, Jefferson Performing Arts Society, and FourFront Theatre. She is recognized by the National Foundation for the Advancements of the Arts, the Louisiana State Arts Council and Gambit Magazine’s “Big Easy” Award.

Sheri's blog Reflections in Sequins and Satin came about out of a love of writing and reflecting on dance, personal experience, people in dance history - anything that inspires her.