to a young dancer, 2013 edition

This is a repost of a blog written by our former DX resident artist Sarah Levitt, who is now deeply immersed in a MFA program at The Ohio State University. She writes about her experiences at http://sarahlevittdance.wordpress.com/.

originally posted on September 8, 2013.

Dear young dancer:

You may have seen this tweet from Dance Magazine earlier this week:

Have you ever had a dance rival? How did it affect you? What did you do to deal with the competition?

— Dance Magazine (@Dance_Magazine) September 4, 2013

When I was a teenager, I loved Dance Magazine. It was my way of learning about how to be a dancer: how to train, how to take care of my body, how to work on my technique, and it gave me many role models to look up to in the professional dancers and choreographers they interviewed. As a professional dancer, and now graduate student in Dance at The Ohio State University, I still enjoy reading the magazine for their articles on choreographers and trends in the field.

But tweets like this from Dance Magazine–many young dancers’ source for information about the field–concern me. It’s true that dance is competitive, and you may in fact feel that you have rivals: other dancers in your classes who are really talented, dancers that you seem to be in competition with for roles. And as you enter into the professional dance field, you’ll still compete: for jobs, for grants, for opportunities like choreographic residencies or training programs. But, if you feel that you have rivals, I want you to remember that our field is small, and that these “rivals” will someday be the people that you spend your days rehearsing with, that give you jobs or recommend you for an opportunity, that bring you to their studio or university to teach. You’ll compete with them at times, but you’ll spend more of your dance life working with them.

Look around in the next class you take: these young women and men in the room are your peers, and, if you all pursue dance careers (of any kind), they will be your peers 10, 20, and 30 years from now. Look for value in what your friends contribute in class and out. Notice their strengths, and learn from them. Trust that you have something to offer them, too. Because in 10, 20, and 30 years, you all will be the ones dancing professionally, making new work, lobbying Congress for funding, and training the next generation of dancers in America. What do you and your peers want to teach them? What kind of dance field and dance culture do you want the young dancers of the future to inherit?

So, keep reading Dance Magazine and check out other perspectives on dance and the arts, too. With help from my best friend and colleague, Sarah Anne Austin (who I met when we were undergraduate dance majors at the University of Maryland), I’ve compiled a few links to get you started—there are so many more voices and views out there! Some of the information in these links will contradict each other, and maybe even contradict me, but that’s great: read enough so you can form your own opinions.

Happy reading, watching, and dancing–

Sarah

READ: 

Culturebot: critical conversations on arts and culture

DanceBloggers: a Dance blog made out of all Dance blogs

From the Green Room: Dance/USA’s e-journal

Createquity: “a unique virtual think tank exploring the intersection of the arts with a wide range of topics including politics, economics, philanthropy, leadership, research, and urban planning…”

WATCH: 

Interviews and promos for artists performing at The Joyce

Contemporary performance at Ontheboards.tv

Smart Girls: Fun + empowering

And for more cool dance: Alexandra BellerUrban Bush WomenSynchronous Objects,Monica Bill BarnesStephanie MiracleRennie Harris, and many, many artists featured at Jacob’s PillowAmerican Dance Festival, and Bates Dance Festival.

Special thanks to Sarah Anne Austin for her editing assistance and artistic advisement.  

About Guest Blogger

Dance Exchange intern and/or guest blogger.