Not long ago I wrote a post about why hearing “no” means you’re doing everything right. It’s true, suffering rejection is a good thing—I wear my “no’s” with pride!
But even though I understand that “no’s” don’t mean I’m “no good,” I still have days where I struggle with rejection, days where I think—‘Why am I still doing this? If I were any good, I’d be working right now.’
In fact, I have a confession: Today is one of those days.
As I write this, I am in between jobs. Right now, I have no stage to call home. My full-time job is searching for auditions and opportunities that could be my next big gig.
These “in-betweens,” as I call them, are hard. No teacher or class prepared me for them. During the “in-betweens” I have nothing but empty time to ponder whether I’m foolish for trying to make it as a dancer. Thoughts of self-doubt feed each other, growing louder and stronger each day.
But here’s the thing about “in-betweens”: everyone has them. They’re not glamorous of course. They don’t make for an impressive resume or an enviable Instagram, but they are a reality of working in an industry that doesn’t guarantee you a smooth ride up the ladder. As a dancer, you could have a great gig one week and be back in the audition line the next.
So how do I cope when Dance goes all “Mean Girls,” on me?
Well, besides dishing myself a hefty bowl of ice cream I have a few other tools that keep me hopeful, motivated, and passionate about my craft. I’m certain that these practices can help you too in the event you find yourself waiting for casting directors to call.
It’s easy to feel as if all your peers are #booked while you’re still #funemployed scrolling through social media. Don’t forget that Facebook and Instagram are platforms built to highlight the highs in life. No one posts the 57 auditions they attended before they got that coveted spot in the ensemble. No one posts about the 4 odd jobs they work while they search for their next gig. If you’re feeling like everyone’s booking but you, put your phone down and do a digital detox.
I love dance. But after a long string of rejections, a cloud of negativity hangs over my relationship to it. I lose sight of my motivation to dance, which developed long before there was a paycheck attached to it. When the industry gets me down I seek out ways to reignite my passion for the art form—I attend a new dance class, I choreograph something just for me, or I turn up my speakers and have my own dance party. In moments of doubt, ask yourself why you started dancing and return to that mental place to recharge.
Fool your brain into loving rejections. Create traditions to commemorate each flopped audition. Go out to eat at your favorite restaurant. Curl up with your favorite movie. Get together with your friends for a night of games and karaoke. Battle your rejections with positivity, and you’ll find that they begin to sting less.
If the callbacks aren’t coming in and it seems like now is not the time for you to be onstage, consider how you can keep your love for dance alive. Seek out teaching opportunities. Or start a blog about your struggle. In my spare time, I enjoy writing about the studios I find as I travel on my blog Wend Away Travel. I also discovered My Dance Dreams while resting after completing a long, hard contract.
As aspiring working dancers, it’s important to build yourself a support system that gets you through the “in-between’s,” because they will happen. Guaranteed. Never forget that every dancer struggles with rejection, whether they show it on the outside or not.
Kelsey is a classically trained dancer and Actor’s Equity performer. She has performed for companies such as Central Florida Ballet, Tokyo Disney, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and at sea with leading luxury cruise lines. A dancer by day and a writer by night, when Kelsey is not performing she shares her love of dance, travel, and finding a good cup of coffee on her blog Wend Away Travels. Find her full performance bio and show gallery at www.kelseyannglennon.com.
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Broadway Dance Dreams