How My Dance Background Helps Me As A Business Owner

I had my first dance lesson at the age of 3. I don’t remember much of it, but I do remember two things about it.

First, I remember there were weird stuffed animals in the window area that creeped me out. Second, I remember that I didn’t like it, and I kept going to my mom to ask for more snacks.

So from there, my mom enrolled me in acting, modeling, piano lessons, and gymnastics. And, while gymnastics was a very close second, by the age of 5, and after trying out my first tap dance class, I knew dance would be my thing. (I’ll forever be grateful to Ms. Vanessa, my first tap dance teacher who told my mother that I was a natural and that I should join her competition class after the first time she saw me dance.)

So, how does my background in competitive tap dance and my pre-professional classical ballet training help me as an entrepreneur? I think there are a few ways.

  1. I’m not afraid to fail when it comes to entrepreneurship. (Now, if we’re talking about with my every-day psychoses, fear of failure is a big thing in my life as a Type-A, over-achiever, and possible perfectionist. But if we’re just talking about entrepreneurship, then I’m good. ;) I know that I will always, always have more ideas. I know that I will always be able to make some kind of money from those ideas ( . . . It’s truly amazing what it does for the brain when you think of something, create something, put it on the Internet with a nice bow, and make a few hundred dollars from it. The first time that happens, you know you can make much, much more. Making money straight from your ideas is a game changer, folks.). I also know that I can always get another job if needed. Yes, I have a couple of university degrees under my belt, and I’m working on another, but, in addition to that, I have some crazy good life experience, drive, and I’m not afraid to get things done when I need to pay the bills. With dance, even when you do actually “fail” — have a bad class, mess up a performance, get an injury — there’s usually an opportunity to do better in the next class, try harder at the next performance, and to increase your strength so that you’re less likely to get injured in the same way in the future. Failure may exist, but only as long as we dwell on that feeling instead of focusing on ways to improve.
  2. I know that pain is temporary. Nobody likes pain. In fact, I’ve carried aloe vera, Band-Aids, and Advil in my purse since I was about 14 years old because I hate pain and I refuse to not be prepared for it. But, since I’m a dancer, I know that most physical pain will heal over a short time. In business, when things are uncomfortable, or when I’m learning systems that I don’t want to learn, I know that it’s part of a temporary pain that will soon go away and that my life will likely be better after I push through to get to the next level. (Disclaimer: I know dancing through injuries is a big problem in the dance world, especially in the world of classical ballet. I’m not endorsing that mindset, but I am saying that that mindset can be helpful in terms of being an entrepreneur. Sometimes we feel like it’s the end of the world. Later, we realize that it wasn’t. We just had to keep going. And that’s my truth.)
  3. I’m aware of a certain *magic* that exists for us artists that I’m not sure others are as keenly aware of. Maybe it’s from spending my childhood performing. Maybe it’s because my mother let me me dance around the living room for hours, re-enacting entire movie scenes (and often, as much of the movie as I could remember, which was typically a good amount). Maybe it’s because I’ve worked at summer camps for children, where “creating magical moments” was literally in my job description. But like, I know that magic is real. I know that it’s possible for us to create the life of our dreams. I know that the only real limits that exist are those that we place upon ourselves. (And this is not to discount systemic problems in the world, by any means. This is to say that, whether to my benefit or detriment, I’m a believer in fairy-tales and dreams that become reality.) They say that those who often succeed are those who don’t know that failure is inevitable. I think that’s true of dancers. We know that the possibility of living in a world of wonder is real. So we keep dreaming. And we keep doing.

What about you? What childhood activities or hobbies help you in your current business or career path? Let me know in a comment!

Creativity Is Definitely A Habit

So does it seem like I’m super into everything related to Dance Daze, Inc., Dance Daze in Schools, and, my newest, Dance Ed Startup? Well, that’s because I am.

But does that mean I like doing every single thing associated with running those businesses and projects? Absolutely not.

Earlier today, I was thinking about a comment from my very first mentor teacher when I was in an intensive teacher training program, credentialing program, and accelerated Master of Arts degree program to become an effective classroom teacher in one year. I must have asked her something like, “What do you not like about being a teacher?” I remember her response to this day–it struck me because I felt like she was either lying through her teeth or delusional. She said, “I like everything about this job.” I simply couldn’t believe her. In fact, I still don’t.

When people talk about their “life’s work” or “walking in their purpose” or “doing what they love” and all that sort of stuff… YES. I 100% GET THAT. Those are ALL the feels I get from running my dance organizations. But, I wasn’t raised to lie. And I’m not in denial. I know what lights me up and what things I completely avoid. (I even know exactly why I’ve gotten behind on this blog… It’s because I hate editing my podcast transcripts. Even though I completely love having a podcast, getting my voice out into the world, developing new skills like audio editing and transcribing audio that I’ve never previously had to do at any j-o-b I’ve ever had… But I still hardcore procrastinated on doing my last two transcripts, which got me completely off track with my little blog pattern I’ve been working on keeping up here.)

All of the above to say: I think I’m a super creative person who is lit up by the work that I do for my businesses. But, if I didn’t make myself do some of the stuff, it would simply never get done.

For example, I love teaching dance. I love having spending time creating learning objectives, structuring activities, challenging my students, and creating incredible experiences through the medium of movement in my classes. I love when parents and other family members enjoy the experience too. It all makes me feel like I’m a super awesome person who is having fun, getting paid, and helping other people have fun and enjoy watching their kids develop into awesome people because of their experiences in dance education.

HOWEVER, I almost always wait until the last minute to plan my classes. The “artsy” part of me feels like it is part of my process to “get inspired” at the last minute then rush to create well-executed masterpieces.

But what did I tell you in my last blog? I totally believe that a failure to plan is a plan for failure.

So how do I satisfy the super prepared and always 10 steps ahead part of me with the wait-until-the-absolute-last-minute-to-produce-your-best-work part of me when it comes to planning dance classes?

I’ve created a habit.

I give myself the “thrill” of planning my classes at the last minute by waiting until the morning of my classes to plan them. But I stay 10 steps ahead by giving myself like 5 hours to do the planning and get to the studio.

That’s right. Most mornings that I’m teaching, I’m up by about 5:30 am to plan my classes for the day.

Crazy right? Probably. (I’ve even gotten up that early on Saturday mornings after being up after midnight. But if you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I can function like a somewhat normal–if not hyper-cranky and hyper-emotional–human on just 5 hours of sleep. And I can fake it on less than 5 hours of sleep. So there’s that.)

So, in my opinion, am I still being creative? Absolutely.

And, am I still planning ahead? Probably not as much as the next gal, but I’ve never been one to do things in a typical way anyway.