A huge part of what we do in dance is about satisfying the needs of others – our partners, our teachers, the adjudicators and our families who support us. The person that often comes last in this line is actually the most important part of the equation, YOU!

Manifesting your dreams, creating ultimate happiness and living your life to the fullest will not happen if your actions are not congruent with your core values, beliefs and goals. Understanding this is the easy bit, putting this into practice is not always an easy task, especially if you have jumped aboard a roller coaster ride for someone else’s vision.

The first thing you must do is look inward. Asking yourself the right questions is again not so difficult, but KNOWING which answer to listen to can be where the challenge really lies. What do I really want? What makes me happy? How can I move closer to what I want right now? How do I want to dance? What style do I love? How do I want to look? How do I want to feel when I dance? What weight do I want to be? What emotion do I want to portray? How do I want to be remembered as a dancer? How do I want to be remembered as a student? How do I want to be remembered as a person?

The problem is your ‘real’ answers to these questions often get manipulated, altered or moulded into something over time that is far from your truth. The challenge for dancers is that in order to achieve success you must place trust in your core team – your partner, your coach and teachers. Is what you learn and listen to by trusting in their experience, their education, their knowledge, skill and success, in alignment with your core values, desires, dreams and beliefs. Are you trusting these people more than you trust your values, intuition, gut feeling, or dreams? It’s a question as a teacher I think about a lot and was also a dominate theme when I practiced as a therapist. It is imperative to recognise the differences in everyone, and guide therapy to meet the individuals personal needs. I often had a dialogue between dancer/teacher Natasha and therapist Natasha whilst teaching dance at a University. How far could I change the way people dressed, groomed and behaved to be in line with a dancer mentality verse respecting their individuality and personality? How much do we demand that students do things in a certain way because it is tradition, the way things are done or expected in our industry? It’s an interesting topic, but I think if you can suggest ideas with reasoning as to why it is done that way, you are sharing something that has become now your belief. From there it is purely up to the student if they wish to act on the suggestion or not.

I have developed a number of steps that will put you on the right road to achieving personal satisfaction whilst still working within a team.

  1. Ask these questions frequently of yourself.
  2. Select the team you think will be most congruent with your answers.
  3. Communicate with your team your visions, beliefs, goals – always with the respect of peoples’ differences.

If at any stage your vision is taking a different path to those in your team then a) revisit and discuss openly again your dreams, values or beliefs and try to ask for their understanding and guidance in helping you achieve them or b) thank them with gratitude of being part of your journey and remain true to your path.

There may be some people who ask, particularly if you are the teacher, coach or partner, ‘but he/she needs to be closely controlled, has ideas that are unrealistic, and will waste so much time and talent if not told what to do.’ I have also found myself in this position. Sadly, change will not really happen for someone until they reach a point that they want to do it for themselves anyway. So all of your hard work and effort in helping and guiding them will be unrealised anyway! If the person does take on your suggestions even if it is not what they believe in, some may be successful, some may achieve a better outcome, but will they have enjoyed their journey? Would the relationship between you been the fruitful, inspiring and exciting one you had hoped it to be? Or would you have spend all your time forcing them to do something as it is what you think should happen. As I’ve often read, it can be like raising children, you must sometimes let them figure it all out for themselves as that is when true change and realisation happens.

True productivity, achievement and happiness comes when core values, beliefs and dreams are aligned. If you have any doubts of whether you and your team want the same things, whether you and your partner are on the same page, or that you don’t even know what you think yourself, then I urge you to give this more thought. Ultimate success will not happen without complete clarity of your vision.

Spend some time thinking about this, visualising, journaling, typing it out, – whatever you prefer to do and keep a record of it. Visit it regularly as it may change with new information and ideas, but always be truthful, open and honest with yourself. You could save yourself years of being stuck in unwanted partnerships and relationships and live a much more fulfilled and happy life and dance career.