|My story on the all-new Dance Magazine website|
|The Graduating Class of the dance department at Hunter College|
This concept kind of drives me nuts, but every one of us is unique. In fact, the only thing that is normal about every human being is that we are all unique. While some dancers have amazingly high leg extensions or perfectly centered pirouettes, others have artistry that really shines through and can move people to tears. But there are other aspects of self that help dancers become visible. Perhaps, its your hair color, your fashion sense, your interests offstage, or your upbringing. There are unique characteristics that we are born with and different personal experiences that we all have had that distinguish each of us from one another. While many of us try to find success through our technique and artistry, it is more common for those who rise to local, regional, national, and international attention to be singled out for their uniqueness rather than their technique. This is due to the fact that many people today have impeccable technique, sky-high extensions, and can turn on a dime. Today, people tend to be drawn to artists who are imperfect, but intriguing, relatable, or any combination of the two.
How does one find what makes them unique and then use it to their advantage onstage and offstage? This often requires a lot of trial-and-error to accomplish. For me, as a dancer, I had nice facility with very good technique and considerable acting skills. I always felt like my acting skills distinguished me from others since I didn't have incredible facility. But I was never able to gain the national or international attention I had dreamed of attaining in my work as a performing artist with my skill set. Only when I began freelancing and developed this blog had I begun to even tap into a little bit of what makes me unique in this vast, yet small dance world. I didn't realize it at the time, but what was distinctive about me as an artist was the candor and honesty that I am willing to share publicly about my work and our art form. While this has nothing to do with my dancing, it is a distinguishing quality of mine that I seemed to have naturally cultivated. It absolutely has helped me stand out in a crowd. During my performance career, this quality of mine helped me gain employment across the nation as a freelance artist and got me a few nice nods with attention from Dance Informa and a short article about health care in Dance Magazine.
I didn't have to try hard to develop this characteristic in my media and social media work, as this has always been a quality of mine since childhood. I remember sitting with a friend at the Kirov Academy of Ballet who asked me to be honest with her about what I thought of her technique. I remember her pursing her lips, letting out a short close-lipped smile, and stating, "That was mildly painful to hear, but I know that you love me and I now know what I need to work on to get where I want to." And the beautiful part of this story is that she got her dream job to dance with Universal Ballet in South Korea, where her mother had been raised. So, while I have always had this unique quality, it took freelancing and this blog for me to figure out how to use it to benefit my career.
|Rose Montgomery-Webb (Photo: Unknown)|
|James Whiteside (Photo: Unknown)|
I wouldn't have gotten the opportunity I had today at Hunter College and the one above with Dance Magazine if I hadn't figured out what made me unique and ran with it. It can be so frustrating for somebody to tell you that everybody and nobody is unique. And while I fully agree with that statement, we can only blossom fully when we learn how to genuinely be our own unique self. Take some time to tap into and cultivate multiple parts of yourself that you feel are distinguishing. But be sure not to get disillusioned when certain things you have worked towards and hoped for don't actually catch people's attention. Practically nobody figures out the key to success on their first try. Keep putting yourself out there, keep fine-tuning your ideas and story, and (if you are lucky) your uniqueness will help bring you to the forefront of attention onstage, offstage, and in communities around the world.