|R&J w/Fort Wayne Ballet (Photo: Jeffrey Crane)|
If you are performing a role that requires great depth and are assigned a single coach to help pull out the best qualities in your performance, it may be appropriate to get a thank you for their investment in your career. Like I said above, if you are having a normal rehearsal interaction with a ballet master, then a simple thank you will do. But if this coach has gone out of their way to bring out the best performance you can give, be sure to write them a note and consider buying them flowers, candy, or something meaningful related to the role that you are performing.
If a choreographer creates a new work on you or a stager comes in to set a ballet and does a stellar job of preparing the dancers, it is completely appropriate to purchase a gift to show your appreciation. Back when I danced at Pacific Northwest Ballet, we would designate somebody or a dancer would claim responsibility to come up with an appropriate gift for the occasion. Whether it was flowers or an inside joke between everyone in the cast, this one responsible dancer would determine the cost of the item/s to be bought and collect cash from each dancer who wants to contribute. Once the purchase was made, there would always be a card on hand for those that contributed to sign their name and, perhaps, write a short note.
It is extremely rare for a dancer to go out of their way to express thanks to their boss outside of a verbal display of appreciation. Buying a gift for somebody that holds a lot of power can make it difficult to tell if it is truly to express thanks or is instead a way to seek favor and positive attention from the big guy or gal who is making decisions about your career. If you really want to let your boss know you appreciated getting a role or enjoyed an opportunity to try something new, schedule a meeting or wait for your evaluation.
|My Cast at the National Choreographers Initiative (Photo: Dave Friedman)|
If you are freelancing and find yourself living with a host, it is considered gracious to leave a little thank you on the counter when you head home (or offer in person if that floats your boat). If you are only staying with a host for a few days, a simple thank you card will do. But if you have spent a significant amount of time living in your host's home, it is appropriate to get something more for them. My favorite go-to is a bottle of wine or Prosecco if they drink alcohol. If they don't, something thoughtful with a card leaves a nice impression and can help build long lasting friendships. And, even better, if you are a freelance artist, you can write off up to $25 of the cost on your taxes, as this is a business expense.
Anybody That Went Out of Their Way for You:
It isn't necessary for you to thank each and every person that does something for you. Maybe your dresser was extra helpful or the conductor paid extra attention to your request to slow down the tempo for your solo. Since these people are just doing their job (and are stellar at it, too) a simple verbal thank you is more than enough to express your appreciation for those that have helped you perform at your best. Now, if somebody went way out of their way to assist you in getting on the stage, like if a physical therapist gave you extra attention in an emergency or somebody from wardrobe saved your life helping with quick changes, it could be a beautiful gesture to write them a short thank you in the form of a card. Here, it really is the thought that counts. And this is just good, basic relationship building skills at their best.
Don't forget that it is also really great to thank yourself. Give yourself a day off at the end of a production that doesn't involve going to a party, drinking alcohol, or anything else that could be too draining. Buy yourself that cupcake you wouldn't allow yourself to have because you had to wear a white unitard. Or, even better, treat yourself to a good deep-tissue sports massage or for a few dips at your favorite Russian baths. It is easy to think about being thankful to those around you. But you were just as much a part of creating magic onstage as everyone around you.
I will actually be releasing a podcast on Pas de Chát: Talking Dance tomorrow about Cultivating Thankfulness. So, if you are looking to find ways to be more thankful in your life, be sure to tune into that starting Friday! Happy Thanksgiving!