Advice to Dancers for the New Year

The World Dances is fortunate to speak with myriad inspiring artists. We asked stars, rising stars, and role models from all walks of the dance world about their advice for aspiring dancers who might like to follow in their footsteps. Here is a roundup of some of our favorite responses to help kick off the new year with passion and intention! 

Rachel Moore, President and CEO of The Music Center in Los Angeles

"You really have to market yourself. Some artistic director isn’t necessarily going to wander by and notice that you’re super talented. You need to be able to present yourself. But at root, as an artist, you need to know what is special about your voice and what you bring to the table and you need to be able to articulate that. Artists need to think about their own mission statements. Why are you doing this? Why are you special? What are your attributes? Are you a great storyteller? Can you evoke others’ emotions? Write it down, even if it’s still a draft. Just start thinking about it. Build it into your personal brand of who you are and how you promote yourself. You promote yourself through social media, when you’re applying for jobs, through pitches, through meeting people at events.  You need to be able to talk about it and make people see what you’re about.”

Kate Lydon, Artistic Director of ABT Studio Company and ABT Summer Intensive programs

"To prepare yourself for summer programs, take classes before you begin your intensive! You want to arrive ready so that you do not get injured or overwhelmed. Summer Intensives are intense!”

Sara Michelle Murawski, Principal Dancer 

"Do everything you can to enhance your dancing beyond your classes, like pilates, gyrotonics, cross-training, or conditioning. Healthy eating and exercise are key to becoming strong enough to eventually pull off leading roles.  Most importantly, stay passionate about dance. Watch live performances and videos.  See different kinds of art. Do whatever inspires you to remember your love and hunger for this art form. That passion, regardless of where you are technically, always comes through on stage. Dance is hard and there will be times when you feel hurt. You need that passion to pull you through and to be able to keep growing.”

Alexandra Wilson, Colorado Ballet Studio Company 

"Do not worry about what everybody else is doing. As dancers, we get so caught up in where one's going for a summer intensive or how much scholarship money somebody else got. Understand that your path as a dancer is never going to be the same as anyone else’s. Keep persisting, working to your full potential, and sharing your passion. You’ll get there some day.”

Dana Nicolay, Professor of Dance, Sam Houston University

"You’ve got to believe in yourself and at the same time cut yourself no slack. You don’t have time to think that you’re already good enough. You need to keep making progress towards a standard, and that standard has to be one of your own making. It’s key that this not come from anyone else. If you’re trying to please your teacher or choreographer, you’re insecure and uncertain all the time. You have to cultivate your own vision and pursue it with total dedication through the pain, through the frustration, all the time.”

Charlotta Öfverholm, Artistic Director, Compagnie Jus de la Vie

"I always say, even to very professional people if they listen to me, you really have to find yourself, even if you don’t want to choreograph.  The only person that you really have is yourself. You have to learn what, who you are. It is what is most important in everything." 

James Fayette, Colburn School, Associate Dean of the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute

"I think we’re now in a new season in the dance field. We’ve done ballet to the top level it can be done. Everyone can do 32 fouettés, double tours. We’ve reached an amazing technical level, to the extent the technique is actually becoming a little bit boring. We need to get back in touch with artistry and diversity, how we present our art. That’s something that’s very significant. To be a really rich artist for a really rich company, your spectrum of dance has to be broader. Obviously take your ballet class every day, but definitely take a look at the other art forms. Embrace them and learn about their history. Be the person in the room who, when the choreographer wants to do something new, you can step out there and not just do a good dance step, but an interesting dance step. I think diversity informs that."