Consider yourself in class, admiring your reflection in the mirror after successfully performing a quadruple pirouette. You’ve been practising this move for months, and it’s finally come to fruition! As you land smoothly in the fourth position, you feel both pride and relief and look over at your teacher to see if she saw. “Keep your shoulders away from your ears,” she instructs before going on to evaluate the work of the next pupil. But, unfortunately, your nice mood has been ruined. No matter how hard you try, your dancing always appears to have issues.
A continual stream of corrections can leave you feeling overwhelmed and cause you to lose sight of your love for the art form. However, every dancer must learn to deal with these comments. So, how can you learn to deal with criticism constructively and peacefully? Here are four strategies to turn criticism into something beneficial rather than something detrimental.
Remember the Reason Why
You enrol in a dance class because you want to improve your skills. To progress in anything, we need feedback to know what is and isn’t working.
Try not to take criticism personally, especially if it is about your technique. Receiving unfavourable comments does not imply that you are untalented even professionals are criticised.
Consider the Source
Take a minute to prioritise if you’re feeling swamped with criticism. For example, a teacher’s technique-related critique usually carries more weight than a peer or parent letter. Similarly, if you’re in rehearsal for a specific work, the choreographer will certainly have the last say on how steps are executed.
Technique- or performance-related comments are distinct from comments regarding your body, which are likely to hurt more, even if they are intended to help you. So, how do you know when to take comments about your body seriously? That is where delivery comes into play. If your teacher speaks to you privately and respectfully offers to cross-train, that is more important than a peer, a parent, or an overzealous costume mistress noting that you must have liked your birthday cake last week.
Learn When to Let Go
Your first instinct after receiving in-class criticism may be to repeatedly practise a faulty move. But, occasionally, no matter how hard you try, the remedy will not be incorporated into your body on that particular day. And that’s fine! Sleep on it, then come back to it with fresh eyes. Though your technical problem may be the result of something you can’t necessarily fix, for example, short Achilles tendons or tight hip sockets—the chances are your body needs time to acclimate.
Taking a break to fix an issue is not the same as giving up. Consider why something isn’t functioning. Perhaps there is a learning curve, and you need to give yourself some time to catch up. Perhaps there is a weakness that can be addressed by cross-training. Or perhaps it’s just a bad day; in that case, leave it alone and return to it later.
Be Kind to Yourself
Handling criticism maturely and positively necessitates inner strength. You must strive to accept yourself as you are and forgive yourself when things don’t go as smoothly as you’d want. Isn’t it true that it’s easier said than done? Consider it this way: You never stop learning as a dancer. Once you’ve overcome one challenge, you’ll come across another.
It is critical to channel one’s desire for excellence in a constructive manner. Excessive self-criticism might destroy your ambitions by forcing you to endure pain or despise everything you do. This frequently leads to melancholy and injury after a while. Rather than becoming frustrated, reframe the problem by learning to work within your body’s constraints.
Remember that you are your own harshest critic as you move through your training. Stay humble, yet understand that what you think of yourself is the most important thing.