Mentorship

dancehealthier wants to get a little personal this Sunday.  I (if you haven’t noticed already) am going to speak in the 1st person for this entry.  I have a story to tell.

I was lucky enough to be lounging in a brownstone apartment in the South End of Boston this morning all while drinking an espresso.  Looking through the bay window into the streets of boston, I noticed it was the perfect day for lounging – slightly misty with a bit of a chill but still brilliantly historical and vibrantly in bloom.  I was reminded of my 15 year old  dream of one day living in a Boston brownstone.  I thought again, “Well maybe someday.”

There I was with 2 great others – all with dancer blood.  We dove deep into conversation concerning the importance of why leaders in the dance world should provide greater mentorship for young dancers.  It’s a troubling topic with more and more unpaid traineeships popping up everywhere.  Often times these dancers are expected to venture out on their own with the small chance of landing a job for the next season.  Of course there are the exceptions, but overall the system has a lot of cleaning up to do.  We all equally seemed to have a passion to advocate for change.

Ironically, not even a minute after we all took a deep breath from our passionately heated conversation, there came a knock on the door.  A student from an area ballet school stepped in, seeking advice from the owner on how to handle a situation with his ballet teacher.  It was as if he was a plaintiff of the exact case we had just been talking about.  Already still heated, I wanted to interject and tell him that “they should treat you better!”  But before I could, the owner (much wiser than I) spoke up first.  He explained to the student how to handle the situation in the short-term.  He had no emotion in his statements, just advice.  The student went into the kitchen and I asked the owner, “What made you not gripe about the teacher?”  The owner said, “When you mentor someone, you should not focus on what should have been done, but rather focus on making his future better by finding a way to fix the problem.”

I learned something huge today.  Sometimes you just hear things that make so much sense.  As dancers we tend to talk and talk and talk about why the situation is so bad.  Instead, just as the owner made it clear, we should instead concentrate on simply fixing the problem.  Even if it is not so easy.

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4 thoughts on “Mentorship

  1. I love the sound advice and wisdom shared in this article. Not only is it applicable to dancers, but it’s also suited for a hundred other professions. If more people chose to move forward from a difficult situation, instead of dwelling, griping, and finding every injustice, I think we could become a more understanding and self controlled group of people. It’s easy to get stuck in the rut of harboring ill feelings toward teachers and directors who may lack at times wise judgement, but how much better off would we be to take the high road and learn what we can do as individuals to grow and improve amidst the difficult situation. This is the exact advice I need to follow, glad to have the reminder. ; )

  2. Thank you so much for your input and appreciation for a subject that needs a lot of attention. I could not think of a better advocate for this topic, Caitlin! Thanks again!

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. Another side to think about. Do you think that our future generation of dance leaders should hold more responsibility for the dancers they lead? Should there be more mentorship in the overall system?

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