One of the best innovations to change the dance world was the creation of Youtube. Now, I know that this social media platform which focuses on short videos was never meant to specifically work as a venue for dance, but it has surely changed people's access to quality dance footage. When I was a kid, if I wanted to seek inspiration, I either had to raid my dance teacher's video cabinet or look at still pictures of dancers in periodicals. Today, if I want to see an inspiring performance or check out a specific artist, but don't have the money to pay for tickets or travel, I can easily search for the most inspiring performances online.
|Climbing mountains w/close friend & mentor, Boyd Bender|
- See a show:
This one can be tricky. A few months ago, a friend asked me if I was going to see a certain performance. I told them, "No. Being injured and seeing a show would probably only be depressing." Well, a few weeks later, I finally decided to see a dance performance and was really glad I had done so. Very few dancers were inspired to have a career without having seen some type of professional performance. If you are feeling a little uninspired, dress up, grab a drink, and go be a spectator in the audience. It may help you find the inspiration you are looking for.
- Take class from a new teacher:
Sometimes, a lack of inspiration is purely situational. This can happen a lot when you are dancing in a full-time company, taking from the same instructors all the time. When I was a kid, I used to take class from multiple teachers a week. Then I would leave for the summer and have a whole new set of teachers. Add in master classes, summer program auditions, and pre-performance warmups, I had a variety of options to take class. Often, in a company, the instructor options are very few, especially if you live outside of New York City. Many dancers won't leave company class because they are afraid that the Artistic Staff will think that the dancer isn't taking class. If you don't live in New York City, where it is common to go to Steps on Broadway to warm up for your day, do some research about instructors and classes offered in your area. If you are concerned about your boss being upset, maybe try out their class on a day off. Often, a dancer only needs a new perspective to gain new inspiration.
- Hang out with dance friends:
If inspiration is lacking, sometimes you need to be reminded of who you are. There is no better way to do this than to spend some time with friends who are involved in and equally passionate about your art form. Whether you are sitting and talking about dance or just enjoying the energy of other artists around you, your friends will understand and inspire you to continue growing.
- Take class in a new style:
When dancers are students, they often dabble in a multitude of different dance styles. As a youth, I remember thoroughly enjoying differing styles of dance, like Salsa, Flamenco, African, Hip Hop, Irish Step and more. Then we become professionals and we tighten up greatly. One thing I have found, as a pro, is that once we become very good in a niche of our art, we become afraid to step out of that niche and do something that we aren't as good at. Young students have no problem throwing themselves into a class and looking/feeling imperfect. But professional adult dancers tend to stay in their own style and fear looking bad in another. Well, give that up and run to a dance studio to take a hip-hop class or a salsa class. New inspiration is rarely found on a one-way road that you drive down day after day.
- Visit New York City:
This may not be a possibility if you are on a tight budget or live too far away, but a nice visit to New York City is often enough to light that fire that every dancer feels when they visit the Dance Capitol of the World. A few weeks ago, when I was having a less than inspiring time trying to figure out my injury, I hopped on a bus to spend a few days in this amazing city. Almost every professional dancer has some connections here. You can accomplish essentially every topic listed in this post in a short trip. Walk around, feel the vibe, see a show, take from a new teacher, try a new style, hang out with dance friends, and so much more. A trip to New York City is like drinking a few shots of espresso all at once!
- Take a few weeks off:
If all else fails, maybe you just need to take a few weeks off from your art. If you don't have the funds to do this, either start saving or ask around for random, small jobs (Task Rabbit, Craigslist, friends&family, etc.) that may be able to support you so you can take that break. Don't take a few weeks off without a plan to reenter the dance world because it may lead to more time off than you planned, which may be more damaging to this cycle. Plan how you will occupy some of your time and don't put the physical and mental stress that dancers are known to place upon themselves. If you do this appropriately and effectively, you'll come back hungry for more. As they say, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder."