Comparing Yourself to Other Dancers: Is Dance Really For Me?
There are cycles and seasons in your dance journey the same way as in your life in general. In some seasons we feel very enthusiastic about going to the studio, practicing, and creating new work. Other times we literally need to drag ourselves there, feeling exhausted and empty. In those moments we may even question ourselves if we are on the right place, if dance life is for us at all. And what is even worse, we start comparing ourselves to other dancers, or to someone’s expectations of how it should be like: “Oh, that dancer told that she practiced every single day, but I don’t do so… And that dancer said that she was constantly hearing music in her mind, and wanted to jump into dancing all the time, or was imagining choreographies… But I’m not like that. Oh, and also, they say that dance is a lifestyle, but I feel that it’s only a part of my life, not its definition…” Sounds familiar?
I remember when I was taking a huge decision in my life to move abroad and enrol into a bachelor degree in dance (and this is already after holding a Master degree in Finances, and declining the university's invitation to continue with a PhD.). My dad expressed his concern, and those words stuck in my head, even now. He said that he was worried if a dance career was really for me, because he never noticed my desire to dance every single day, and to him I didn’t seem to be a person who really wanted to be in the arts 24/7, and to do it as a profession, not just a hobby.
I was holding that thought on the back of my mind for many years. It’s true. I don’t feel like dancing all the time. In fact, I rarely enjoy dancing at parties just for the sake of partying, and even in training or performing life I don’t always feel super excited to do it from day to day. I enjoy and value stillness and silence, as much as movement and music.
Does all of this define me as a dancer? Does it mean that a dance career is not suitable for me? Does it mean I can’t be a successful dancer? No, I don’t think so. You would ask: why? Because even with everything said above, I can’t imagine myself doing anything else rather than dance. Not because I can’t, or don’t have other knowledge or skills, but because I sincerely don’t want to. If I try to imagine myself being involved in another field, my entire body starts shouting and protesting. I feel it with all my being. And that’s a good enough reason for me. I don’t need any additional proof or validation of my dance choice. Also… I don’t need constant enthusiasm towards my profession. There will be always ups and downs, regardless of what path one chooses.
Listen to your own soul. There are many stereotypical expectations regarding any profession, and how it is supposed to be. Concerns from people around you are understandable. They care and want to protect and support you. But this life is yours, and the choice is up to you. Each person will have their own journey, so stop comparing yourself to others, and even when you face those down moments, just close your eyes, listen to your soul, and remember why you chose to do it.
Author: Iana Komarnytska
Photographer: Pedro Bonatto
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