Besides the obvious rewards that come from dancing itself, another significant perk of being a dancer is the chance to meet and share with those you truly connect with, a group you identify as yours.
But no team or community, is exempt from intra-relationship difficulties.
There are still certain guidelines, principles, and even restrictions that, when put in appropriate practice, can cultivate and preserve the delicate relationships within the group.
Since there are so many different relationships in countless different groups with their own idiosyncrasies, I’ve broken them down into 3 major relationship categories.
Keep reading to get etiquette-educated 🙂
The Director-To-Dancer Relationship
1. Practice what you preach
Actions speak louder than words.
If you encourage your team to take more class, you yourself better be sweating your tushy off in class several times a week.
Needless to say, all of us draw the most inspiration from those who live their words.
See Related Article: Leadership Tips From Directors In The Dance Community
2. Remember the individuals!
This is where a lot of dancers’ reservations arise, through neglect or lack of personal respect.
While it is an honor and a pleasure to be a puzzle piece in the big picture of a team and the work we produce, an entity can only be infused with true value if each individual unit within it is seen and recognized for its contributions.
No, we don’t all need to be babied, but there is something more important than stage time, YouTube videos, and trophies.
And that’s the team. The teammates. The people, you and I.
3. Give kudos!
A quick and casual “Hey, good job today!” or “You killed that! Keep it up!” can mean SO MUCH coming from someone you look up to.
4. Outline a game plan for each rehearsal
Ultimately, rehearsal schedules are up to the directors, as are last-minute changes.
But a rough outline or plan can do wonders for those who are desperate for even a small sense of autonomy.
Fact is, all of us make sacrifices for dance, and we need to know that the time we hand over isn’t being carelessly allocated.
As much as we believe in the leadership, when it comes to giving up sleep, school, work – there’s a lot more peace of mind in knowing at least a little rather than having complete blind trust.
Just a hint is enough to reduce the anxiety 🙂
See Related Article: How To Set And Achieve Your Dance Goals
5. Infect with good vibezzz~
All energy is infectious. Negativity. Passion. Gloom, fatigue, distress, pessimism…
Basically, your power to influence the mood of each rehearsal, of each dancer, is augmented simply by your position.
We all have our personal lives, and in times of hardship it can be difficult to “leave it at the door.”
But just be aware of your dominant role in setting the vibe for the team, and hopefully the knowledge that so many people look up to and depend on you is enough to get you through the next few hours, just dancing and loving it.
6. Watch your mouth!
The way we communicate is so elaborate – everything from body language, tone of voice, eye contact, choice of phrasing, can greatly affect the way people understand and respond to each other.
Be careful to never address the team in an accusatory or condescending tone.
Start positive, deliver your message, and end positive.
Be assertive but not aggressive.
Be more professional when addressing a larger group.
Be honest and transparent.
7. Make sure your vision is effectively communicated.
Another cause of dissonance that I’ve experienced within a team came from our members not being “on the same page.”
We have to all be looking in the same direction to head to our destination, right? To be on the same footstep on the “Road to _____”?
And this can only happen if the purpose and artistic vision is clear and concise, meticulously and thoroughly planned out.
The way you present your ideas can do a lot to influence that.
Prepare how you want to present your plans with the rest of the leadership board. Make a fricking PowerPoint presentation if you have to! Whatever it takes to clearly and concisely communicate to the team what you want and how to get there.
8. Establish and emulate your mission statement
This means commitment to dance, to the team, to the other members in leadership.
The more you know your purpose, and the more you believe in it, the easier it is to create a sense of unity and intrinsic motivation to work for the same goal.
You cannot make someone do something – you can only make them want to do something.
Instilling a sense of commitment is going to make each member of the team work their best for it, without you having to ask.
See Related Article: Dance Leadership Tools From Anna Sarao & Arnel Calvario (Presented at H4 by CSLA)
9. Be both a leader and a friend.
Of course it’s a challenging balance but it’s definitely possible.
I’ve heard many stories about teammates who became directors and things turned weird, leaders who were too casual, leaders who were too stern, and on and on.
This will come naturally the more you feel connected with individual team members, and with your mission as their director.
It’s not a matter of “Can you be both?” it’s that you ARE both.
Don’t think too much. Be yourself.
10. Have fun!!
Cheesy, but perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind.
No matter how stressful and overwhelming it can get, you are in a prominent and enviable position doing something you love with someones you love.
And dancing is fun! So much fun!
Don’t lose sight of that!
The Dancer-T0-Director Relationship
1. Respect your leaders
Man. They do so much more than you’ll ever know.
But that’s exactly the point- leaders are doing a “good job” when things are looking easy. When they can run rehearsals and create medleys “effortlessly.”
And even though there is an inherent understanding that the team isn’t going to see all the work you put in, there should also be an inherent understanding FROM the team that all that work IS put in, whether we see it or not.
So, teammates all over the world- THERE IS AN UNTHINKABLE AMOUNT OF SWEAT AND BLOOD AND TEARS BEING SHED FOR Y’ALL- AND JUST AS YOU ARE AN IMPERFECT HUMAN BEING, SO ARE THEY, BUT THEY CONTINUE TO GIVE AND GIVE. SO HOLD YOUR TONGUE AND DISPARAGEMENT- YOU HAVE NO IDEA. RESPECT YOUR LEADERS FOR ALL THAT THEY DO, EVEN THOUGH YOU WILL NEVER KNOW ALL THAT THEY DO. *heavy panting*
2. Ask for help
I would approach certain directors for advice on my dance-path, or ask the choreographer of a piece to watch me and give me notes, or even work out payment and rehearsal schedules.. and they were always happy to help.
Don’t be intimidated! After all, the role of the leader is to guide you.
And chances are, these simple things can help THEM feel more personally connected as a leader figure as well.
See Related Article: How To Get Out Of That Weakest Link Mentality As A Dancer
3. If you have an issue, bring it up with THEM, not in a sh*t talk circle.
There will always be areas of opportunity for the leadership to grow in. But this should NEVER be a topic of gossip or sh*t talking.
If you’re truly aiming to improve things, why not go to the source? Why not do something about your discontent rather than just complain?
E-mail, text, or just talk to someone. Transparency and honesty is central to treating people with respect.
This is something we should keep in mind on the daily, not just in dance.
Remember! Be a fun-gi (or gal) but not a shii-talkin’ mushroom.
4. Give kudos too – show your appreciation!
We all crave to be recognized and appreciated… and leaders are in a funny spot where they are most likely some of the hardest-working people on the team, yet they get the least amount of appreciation.
Because “it’s their job.” Because “they don t need it.”…No, no, and no!
Being a leader can be very lonely because everyone assumes these things.
Trust, it will MAKE THEIR DAY if you offered a simple “I loved your piece!” or “Your blocking looks amazing” or “I know you’re tired but look how far we’ve come, thank you so much.”
Let them know everything they’re doing is worth it. Let them now you’re grateful.
They deserve it. And sometimes, they need it.
Any Dancer-to-Dancer Relationship
1. Support each other.
Cheering each other on, sharing their videos, giving compliments, advertising and attending their classes and workshops…
Being a good teammate goes beyond doing the same choreography next to someone.
It’s about having their backs.
Give selflessly and receive thankfully.
2. Hang out outside of dance
Yes, you both like to dance. Yes, you wear matching hoodies.
But there is more to people than a single dimension, and I bet you can find so much else in common with a teammate.
This will forge a more meaningful friendship – one that extends beyond the studio.
The more a team is interconnected, the more chemistry each dancer has with each other, the stronger they are as a unit.
And the more rewarding dance will become to everyone.
3. Give constructive criticism
If you don’t, who will?
You probably know them as a dancer/ choreographer best, and are close enough with them for them to not take offense at your tough love.
If you can help someone grow with some notes, don’t be scared.
Almost certainly, they will use and appreciate it.
4. Know your history.
Cannot sufficiently emphasize how important this is.
You absolutely have to know where you come from to know where you’re going.
Talk about your origins, the journey that led up to where the team or community is now. Keep in touch with alumni. Utilize them as resources.
Encourage new members to embrace the family they are a part of, cognizant that it is built on foundation laid forth by all those who came before them.
The deeper the roots, the higher a tree can grow.
See Related Article: The Evolution Of Our Global Dance Community
I’m sure there are an infinite number of additional unspoken guidelines we live by. But the main point is that – we all love dancing, and we love dancing with each other, so we should try our best to be mindful of each others’ feelings in order to make our connections more meaningful, and our community stronger.
What else do you think is important to keep in mind as a dancer? Leave a comment below to share!
A great way to get to know dancers from different communities all over the world is by joining STEEZY Studio. Our members from 96 different countries share tips on choreography, freestyle, and yes – dancer relationships! Sign up today to start connecting!
This article was originally published on July 14, 2014.