I would write a long winded intro for this, but I think the title sums it up nicely. So here you go. 10 things every troupe dancer should keep in mind!
10. A troupe is a GROUP! While there will always be opportunities to let you shine in the spotlight, a troupe has to function as a group. This means everyone should be receiving the same treatment, and should expect to follow the same rules. No one person is any better, or worse, than anyone else in the group. I hate to use the phrase “you are not a unique snowflake” but hey, if the shoe fits…
9. You will not always get what you want. Troupes usually have a director, and the director has carte blanche. A good director will encourage you to share your ideas and try to incorporate them when possible, but it is simply impossible to make everyone in a troupe happy all of the time. If the director nixes an idea you had, don’t take it personally. You will not always be allowed to stand in the back row, or the front row for that matter. Accept this and try to work with it. If the director puts you in a specific spot, there is a reason!
8. You should work as hard as your troupe mates, and work TOGETHER. If your group is putting extra rehearsal time in or working through a particularly difficult project, you should join in! Aside from the fact that it shows wonderful togetherness and builds the strength of your group, it will ensure you all have a clear cut idea of what needs to be worked on, and you will then be able to ask your director for guidance. The chain is only as strong as the individual links!
7. Do not take ‘understudy’ roles personally! I can’t emphasize this one enough. Being in a troupe means things happen. Troupe members get sick or have family emergencies. But the show must go on. A good group is always prepared to cover for one another, and step in when the need arises. If you are left out of a number because you have missed rehearsals or are unsure that you can carry the number, do not take it personally. You should be glad to give your troupe mates the opportunity to step in and learn a valuable lesson about performance!
6. Someone else in the group will always be better than you at certain things. As dancers, we all have specific strengths and weaknesses. Just because someone in the group does something better than you doesnt give you the right to get mopey or angry or resentful about it. Fine, so their combo is smoother than yours. You can certainly do something better than THEY can. So stop taking it personally.
5. Don’t disappear/drop out because of personal stuff! I have seen way too many talented people stop dancing because of personal tragedy, and it breaks my heart…because that is when you SHOULD be dancing. While an injury, death in the family, depression, or any myriad of things can prevent you from going to class or rehearsal, this is exactly when you SHOULD be going. If you cannot dance due to injury, sit on the side and take notes, observe, and try to absorb what is going on. In a rehearsal situation, this is extra helpful, because it allows an extra set of eyes to help critique the group! If you are finding yourself in an emergency, then absolutely take a week or two to get affairs in order. But don’t turn it into a regular thing!
4. Make peace with the fact that you will fail. Part of performance is that you WILL goof up at some point or another. Every performer has. The sooner you learn to accept it and roll with it when it happens, the sooner you will grow exponentially as a dancer and as a human being. Your troupe mates will fail as well. It is part of being a performer, and part of being in a troupe!
3. COMMUNICATE. If you have an issue, communicate it! Your director is not psychic. If you do not communicate a concern, a question, a thought, an idea…how in the hell is your director, or your troupe mates for that matter, supposed to understand what you want? If you have issues, own it! There is no shame in that!
2. Do not take critiques personally. Your director is there to direct you. If they nitpick something you are doing, it isn’t them coming down on you or being mean, or singling you out. They are trying to help you grow as a dancer, and help the overall flow of a piece! Stop taking things so personally.
1. Always make sure you are in the right situation. If you feel that you need more spotlight, hate following someone else’s instructions, or if you feel like you need to do more solo work, maybe a troupe isn’t right for you. Always be true to yourself!