The Fastest Way for a Dancer to Achieve Mastery: Failure
That was it. That was the last step in my routine with my partner at this competition. The moment I finished I got a feeling of unease.
It didn’t go the way I planned. I failed.
That was my chance to prove that so many hours of training were worth it. I blew it! Half an hour later I saw the results. It was just how I had imagined it: we were among the last in the competition.
I could’ve given up.
Make no mistake, it was my first urge, but I didn’t. I chose to fight for it, I didn’t want my dream squashed by my inability to get over myself. I always knew who I was, and fortunately, I also knew what I may be. After that day, I decided to train even harder than before.
Best choice I’ve ever made.
That was my short tale of struggle to share. If I conjure up in my mind how many times I got the last place in competitions, how many times I was disappointed in myself… Believe me, there are many. Throughout my very many failures, I came away with some important lessons, experiences, and wisdom that later build up to my success. Failure means that you’ve tried.
Failing makes you feel sad, hopeless, and maybe even a loser. Sometimes you may even think that you are not meant to be exceptional in dance or that you do not have the necessary qualities. It’s normal to feel this way. The fear of failure is deeply rooted in us humans. It goes hand in hand with our instinct of survival. But, we evolved and the risks we are taking are not as deadly as before, at least they shouldn’t be.
If you are a dancer, you are confronted with some of these situations every now and again:
- Losing in competitions;
- Experiencing difficulties in some aspect of dance: flexibility, coordination, remembering all steps;
- Being exhausted;
- Feeling that you are “not as good as others”.
And when it comes to the last point, maybe you truly are not as good as others. Yet. And that ‘yet’ makes all the difference in the world… And if you’re always asking for a winning guarantee, maybe you’re in the wrong line.
Dancers with a winning mentality often work hard and play hard. Here are some of the attitudes you might uncover in them:
Winners go back to the basics
A winner is first and foremost a master of the essential basic principles. Regardless of their talent and ability, winners still spend time training to keep the basics clear and fresh. Practice does not represent perfection, but it consolidates perfection. Hardcore dancers learn by returning to the basics of the technique and they re-perfect their steps.
Winners embrace the challenges and persist in spite of obstacles
Remember that you can learn and develop through time. Nothing is unfixable!
Many people think that their steps and their technique have to be perfect since day 1. In dancesport, as in life, it is necessary to make mistakes to learn. Committing them serves us to acquire the knowledge we need to achieve what we want: harmony as a couple, a clean dance technique, and a unique style.
Only by practicing and re-practicing can we learn the new until it becomes a natural part of ourselves.
Winners learn from constructive criticism
If you ignore the feedback that your teacher or partner is giving you, your weaknesses never get addressed. How can you work on things you don’t master if you don’t acknowledge them? You can’t.
Don’t get dragged by a torrent of emotions. Try to analyze yourself as objectively as you can. And please have enough humility to realize that you are not perfect, and you can’t always please everyone.
Consider criticism as an opportunity for improvement. Criticism can open the door to possibilities and alternatives that you did not know. After all, it is much more beneficial to take advantage of all the conflictive situations in which we find ourselves than to be angry forever and thus grow a little more as a person.
Winners don’t put down the success of others
By putting down the success of others, you’re doing more harm than good. If you’re dead set on arguing if someone is better than you or not, or proving yourself without any purpose, you’ve already lost the game. Learn from the success of others.You’re only competing against the dancer you were yesterday.
When we see the work of a professional we’re looking at the result of countless hours of practice.
Winners don’t catch the indifference bug
The fear of failure stops you from committing 100% to your work. When it goes wrong, we make excuses or we try to keep our mind off things. Invest yourself top-to-bottom in dance. When we’re dancing it’s necessary to be in the work 100% and to remove any distractions that prevent you from focusing. It may seem selfish but it is necessary for the artist in you.
These characteristics that make up the winning mentality can be learned and trained. Be the winner who refuses to break, put in place all the necessary mechanisms to overcome your struggles.
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Photography: Tomasz Reindl
Dancing has been my passion since I was 13 and since then I've been doing things in that direction. Writing, creating and putting together the biggest community for dancers around the world!