Where You're Planted, There You'll Grow
Ever notice how things grow? Flowers, trees, fruits and veggies? Anything?
We've all taken elementary school science, and thus, know the basics. I'm sure you know that whatever you're trying to grow requires a seed, fertile soil, water, and sunlight to produce. And although it may take some time to see the fruits of your labor, if you plant a seed and nurture it with the right ingredients, it will indeed spring forth.
What's important to note here though, is that where your seed is planted will determine if and how it grows....meaning, not all soil is created equal.
Seeds planted on rocky ground, say gravel for instance, probably won't take root and flourish. But seeds planted in the right type of soil, under the right conditions, will become whatever it's created to be.
The same is true for our dance lives, my friend...it's actually true for EVERY area of your life.
If you want to experience growth in your dance journey, then you need to be planted in a thriving dance community.
Take my journey for example. When I first moved to LA, I had NO clue where to begin pursuing my career. I hadn't heard of any major studios before I got there, mainly because I didn't know anyone who had done what I was hoping to do.
So, when I arrived, I started looking for audition and job opportunities wherever I could find them. One notice led me to a small studio where a hip-hop/jazz company was emerging. I liked their style, so I started rehearsing with them.
That opportunity led to new connections, and those connections led me to Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio, The Edge Performing Arts, and Millennium Dance Complex. Once I began taking classes regularly at these studios, my dance life flourished in incredible ways. I landed an agent, my skills were enhanced, and I began fostering some great career connections.
The same thing happened when I moved back to Texas. One notice led me to Marvelous Motion where I started rehearsing with their crew. Soon after that, I was teaching at their studio. Shortly after that, different connections led me to many different performance opportunities, including a three month contract to perform and teach in Shanghai, China.
And I'm not the only one who can testify to this truth.
I just wrapped on a interview for Sole Talk, during which I asked the guest how he came to be associated with some major players in the dance game. His response was that he met them in class. He actually made his connections at conventions like Monsters of Hip-Hop and The Pulse on Tour.
Our most recent Sole Talk guest, Luam, who's worked with some amazing artists like Alicia Keys, Janelle Monae, and Beyonce', said the exact same thing. She said she immersed herself into classes at a studio which led to other opportunities.
Keep in mind, class isn't only for improving movement skills. It's also where you meet choreographers who could possibly be scouting for talent for their next job. Just saying...
I even dedicated a whole chapter on this very subject in my book, The Freelance Dancers Roadmap (which you can get for FREE, btw). In it, I say that training is networking and that both are essential to creating a sustainable dance career.
Now, don't think you need to live in a major city like LA or NY for this to work for you. You can plant yourself in a studio exactly where you are RIGHT NOW. Even if you feel like the studios near you don't offer what you need, can you plant yourself there, and then begin teaching whatever it is they don't offer? Can you level up that studio in any way?
You can also attend conventions like the ones I mentioned above. They travel all over the US throughout the year. Check out their tour dates, and try to make multiple locations, if you can. Not only will you love the classes, but you'll begin to make some great connections and possibly some great friends as well.
I was reminded of this fact this past weekend as I attended the Bailando Dance Festival at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. This was my second year being asked to adjudicate the concerts and teach classes. Since I had such a great time last year, I jumped at the opportunity to attend again.
As I gave feedback to choreographers who submitted work, taught classes, took classes, and spread the word about TheWorkingDancer.com, I had a constant feeling of gratitude for being able to connect with such an awesome community.
I was able to catch up with friends I made in grad school, and I even re-connected with dancers who remembered me from the previous year. Everyone was so eager to learn and willing to support their fellow dancer. And what's more, is that some of those dancers and choreographers come back year after year to further their growth.
That trip reminded me that we should all be so diligent in our pursuit.
We should all be so hungry to make our dreams come true.
We should all be so dedicated to our growth that we invest in it time and time again, because when you're planted in thriving communities like the ones I've mentioned throughout this post, then you're likely growing a thriving dance life as well.
Just keep that in mind.
Where you're planted, there you'll grow.
Before you go, check out one of the classes I taught at #BailandoDanceFestival. About 60 students showed up to groove with me. #goodtimes (Click here if video doesn't play automatically.)
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