There’s just something about ATS® dancers. We’re a big, close-knit community, a worldwide extended family. Cues and Tattoos felt like a family reunion. And I think Homecoming will feel even more wonderful.
We all have personalities and opinions, and it’s ok to let those unique stars shine. When ATS® works well, it’s a beautiful coming-together of diverse people who share a common passion. We all trust each other, and we all have to trust ourselves. (Go read Wendy Allen’s essay on Trust, ATS® style for why it’s important to trust yourself.)
The community does break down sometimes. I’ve seen it happen in dance communities all over the world. Here are two of the reasons why it happens.
1. Jealousy. We have feelings about other dancers’ successes and opportunities. It happens.
However, if you think other students are advancing because they are sucking up or kissing ass, you are wrong. They’re advancing because they’re working harder, showing up, being easy and fun to work with, and generally devoting more of their time, energy, and focus to the dance than you are.
Consider this: there is a difference between jealousy (I’m afraid you will take an opportunity from me) and envy (I want something you have, but I’m glad you have it).
Envy has the potential to be a much more positive, supportive emotion than jealousy. But did you catch the definition of jealousy? At its heart, it’s about fear. And if you’re so afraid that someone will take something from you, consider what that says about you.
2. Entitlement. We think we are owed an opportunity for some reason.
Here’s the thing: I don’t care how long you’ve been dancing, or what other dance styles you know — or even how good you are. If you think you are entitled to anything, you are wrong.
And the more you act entitled, the fewer opportunities you will get. No one wants to work with someone who thinks the world owes them something.
We all have these feelings. We all have feelings of jealousy, entitlement, and so on. That’s ok; we’re human, and emotions are part of the human experience. What’s critical, though, to live and dance in community is to acknowledge them for what they are and let them go.
We need to release these things to be in community with other dancers. And the more we release our egos and enter into the dance with an open, inquisitive mind, the better dancers we become, and the more opportunities avail themselves to us.
My point is this: get over your own ego. Get out of your own way. Stop worrying about other people, and worry about yourself. Work on your own technique. Be easy to work with.
These things build community, and they build joy. And who doesn’t want that?
This is hard sometimes. I struggle with this too, and it’s not always easy to come to the studio with an open, inquisitive heart. Sometimes, I honestly need a break from the studio so I can take care of my own needs first. And sometimes, if I’m feeling ungrounded, it’s a little too easy to get caught up in the swirling whirlwind of others’ egos. It’s necessary sometimes to take a step back.
What tools or techniques do you use to release your ego? In what ways do you build up, rather than break down our community? I invite you to share in the comments below.