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ANSWERS 4 DANCERS.

TONY AWARD-WINNING CHOREOGRAPHER GROVER DALE IS EDITOR OF DANCE & FITNESS MAGAZINE. FOR THIS COLUMN, HE DRAWS ON HIS EXPERIENCES AND ASSOCIATIONS WITH 16 BROADWAY SHOWS, 8 FEATURE FILMS, AND OVER 100 TELEVISION SPECIALS.

MY TEACHER TOLD ME THAT WHAT I WANT IS WORTHLESS!

I'm 16 and my goals are getting me into trouble. For me, dancing in a Britney Spears or Janet Jackson video is what I want more than anything. But I'm taking heat for it. The teacher I've been taking ballet and jazz from for six years thinks I'm wasting my time. She says I should be aiming for more important jobs, like Broadway and the major dance companies. I work extra hard in class to show her how serious I am about, being a good dancer. But every time my goals come up, I'm criticized. I end up going home feeling stupid and worthless. Is there something wrong with me? Should I lie? Or just keep my mouth shut? Please help me.

Jessie

There's nothing wrong with you or with what you want. Your goals deserve the same amount of respect that any dancer's dream deserves. Your situation with your teacher is a reminder that success often means different things to different people.

You're at an important crossroads, and someone you respect and look up to is unable to offer you the support you need. That's a tough one. But, you didn't fold or cave in; you reached out to someone else. That, my friend, demonstrates courage and strength of character.

Certainly, keeping your goals to yourself is an option, but there are others. You can start by acknowledging that you've recognized what would satisfy your inner needs. That's growth. Big growth. Nurture it. Allow yourself to see the actions you can take to move your goal forward. Write about it. Talk to friends and family who are likely to support you. Get the info you need. And remember, you're beyond looking for the path to personal fulfillment. You're already on it. You, and only you, have the right to decide what you want. You alone know what truly fulfills you and makes your life worth living. We each have our own lives, and every one of them is equally precious and worthwhile.

I wish for you, Jessie, the conviction to believe in yourself the wherewithal to find your way, and the courage to rise when others expect you to fall. May you accomplish all that will provide you with deep, authentic happiness.

FOLLOW-UP:

The meaning of success has always fascinated me. I've talked to many dancers and choreographers about what it means to them; I've looked back at my own career as well as the careers of those I've worked with over the last forty years. I've listened to the high points, low points, and all the moments in between. Out of it all, one basic truth emerges: Personal fulfillment is the true measure of success.

Here's where it gets interesting. There's a difference between success and fulfillment. Success is measured by standards outside of ourselves, while fulfillment is evaluated internally. Determining what fulfills us is always a personal choice. The world, however, can and does judge you as successful if you measure up to its standards: prestigious jobs, record-breaking salaries, awards, celebrity status.

Fulfillment, however, is something else entirely. It's a feeling that comes from within, that radiates through your whole being. It's the feeling of satisfaction that comes from knowing that you're meeting (or exceeding) your expectations of yourself.

Success in the dance world can be many things. It can be performing a role in a Broadway musical. It can be dancing alongside Britney, Janet, or Ricky, or it can be performing principal roles in a major dance company. It can even be a combination of all three.

What comes to your mind when you think about success? Do you see yourself performing leading roles? Getting wealthy? Hanging out with stars? Do you see your face on the cover of a national magazine? For some, success can be any one or all of these. For others, it may mean having their own dance company, or teaching challenged children, or giving up an unrewarding job at 30 to pursue a dance career. For some, success looks like grand achievement; to others it resembles daily rewards as simple as being a good friend, sustaining a romantic relationship, raising socially responsible children, or living an honorable life.

If you want success, try walking the path of those who have left their footprints in the sand. Tracing their steps often provides clues to defining our personal view of success.

Stay open for the possibilities. Allow them to speak to you in their own time. Don't stress out over the arrival time--stay aware, and trust that good will happen.

Here is a parting quote from Henry David Thoreau: "If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them."

CONTACT GROVER DALE AT
www.dancemagazine.com,
www.answers4dancers.com,
www.auditions4dancers.com.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Dance Magazine, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:advice column
Author:DALE, GROVER
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2001
Words:847
Previous Article:The Teach-Learn Connection.
Next Article:TRANSITIONS.
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