As dancers it is easy to become caught up in the monotonous repetition of training everyday, to become exhausted, to feel creatively blocked and to forget why we became a dancer in the first place. Achieving high performance all of the time sounds difficult – it is not achieving perfection but rather about seeking excellence. It is about trying to maintain success, enthusiasm and energy for long periods of time and being fully productive. There are several areas in your life that can help sustain high performance and can help you to feel more energised, creative and to re-discover that spark! Once these areas are improved, I have found, from experience, that your whole life excels. Here are 5 concise tips that I hope will help….
1). Improve your Health and Wellbeing
“To keep the body in good health is a duty….Otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear”. Buddha
The more you enjoy good health the more energy you will have. When you feel vibrant, everything feels better and you are more motivated. This surge of energy positively impacts on your work, relationships and creative ideas.
Consider everything that you put in your body. Question; is this going to do me any good? Poor diet and dehydration will create fatigue, low mood and energy, which will only drag you down. Dancers work in physically and mentally demanding situations, requiring that the body needs to be fuelled with a nutritious diet that works for each individual. It should support your mind and body to enable a dancer to be working at their fullest potential.
The body needs 7-8 hours of sleep every night to repair and restore. Scientific research has proven that lack of sleep decreases cognitive abilities and creativity and forces stress levels to increase, therefore making it more difficult to deal with difficult situations, decision making and to focus fully. It is important after the body has been so active during the day, that there is time to unwind and allow adrenalin levels to settle. If there is too much adrenalin still pumping around in the body, it will be more difficult to rest and switch off. Meditation can really help this process and people who meditate are known to have a better quality nights sleep.
2.) Be Bold and Courageous
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage”. Anais Nin
What would you do if you didn’t have to do it perfectly? Probably quite a lot. How bold are you? In order to take risks we must get over our accepted limitations about ourself such as….I’m too shy, I’m not good enough, I’m too old…. As dancers we need to raise our level of boldness to move onto the next level of creativity and to develop as artists. It is common to fall into the trap of repeating the same movements, using the same creative formula that worked last time – we have all been there! It is important to be able to shift out of this trap and discover more satisfying artistic territory, to keep moving.
“Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark”. Agnes de Mille
GIVE THIS A TRY:
Try out 1 new activity every week. Go to a new class you have always wanted to try, visit a new place, exercise a new skill that you have been itching to try. Maybe start with a small step first and then become bolder every week. See how it makes you feel….
3.) Improve your Focus
In the current culture, it is so easy to be distracted by social media, internet and the fast pace of life. It is very easy to lose focus and let time wash by. More successful people are generally more focused, have more clarity and have clear goals. Consider: What do you need to achieve today? Do I need to practice a piece of choreography? Do I need to rest today? Do I need to watch some dance to inspire me? What reading task do I need to accomplish? Set small and gentle goals and note when you have achieved them. If you have trouble keeping on track, have a friend who will champion you and keep you focused when you are off course.
4.) Be Inspired
Over time being an artist requires enthusiasm and commitment. It is normal to feel a bit stale at times but it is our responsibility to re-discover that zest for the new and keep up to date. Find new ways to be creative,that isn’t just about dance but inspires you in new and exciting ways. Being outside in nature and fresh air can really help to stimulate new ideas and unclog the mind.
Task: Go and see something new every week that will challenge, inspire and make you feel good. It doesn’t have to cost any money or it can cost very little. At certain theatres you can purchase stand-by tickets tickets for as little as £6 and many museums and galleries are free. Set aside a small weekly budget for ‘inspiring’ – it is good for the soul.
5.) Be Kind
Be kind to yourself and each other. Self belief can be a bit like a dial and go up and down and be difficult to maintain. Finding work in dance at times can be competitive and it can cause frustration, stress and disappointment. It is important to support other dancers and keep each other motivated and inspired. Keeping that self belief in your ability can be hard work and cause unrest and fear that all the previous training and hard work will go to waste. Be kind to yourself and know that you will find your own place and pathway in the industry – sometimes it takes a bit of time to figure it out. It is very possible to make a good living from dance, once you have found the right direction for you.