When Dance Turns Ugly – Part #1: Arrogance


Today starts a 4 part Blog called – “When Dance Turns Ugly”. Today’s topic – Arrogance.

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man;  true nobility is being superior to your former self.”  Ernest Hemingway

Arrogance.  We’ve all taken class WITH it.

Arrogance.  We’ve all taken class FROM it.

Arrogance.  We may even HAVE it.

There is no place for arrogance inside or outside the dance studio.  What is arrogance anyway?   And how does it compare to confidence.

1.  Arrogance: exaggerating or disposed to exaggerate one’s own worth or importance often by an overbearing manner
2.  Confidence:  having a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at it.

Confidence is a very important quality to have as a dancer.  As teachers, we tell our dancers to be confident in the themselves, to believe in their abilities, and trust their bodies to do what they are trained to do.  Confidence is also important in so many parts of our lives.  It helps us to make good decisions.  It helps us take risks and to follow our dreams.

Unfortunately though, confidence can sometimes make a negative shift into arrogance.  Arrogance is confidence with a selfish twist.  Arrogant dancers are hard to watch. They selfishly look around to see who is watching them rather than connecting to the intent of the choreography.  They act superior to those around them, and have a sense of entitlement. Arrogant dancers can take a healthy dance community and break it apart.

But peers aren’t the only arrogant dancers we may encounter.  Arrogant teachers or choreographers worry about their own agenda rather than their students’ growth.  They berate and belittle their dancers to get the results they want.  Or, they become more concerned about their own choreography or trying to “stump” their students rather than truly nurturing them. They long for attention and notoriety. It makes me cringe to think how many potential dance students and supporters were turned away from dance because of an arrogant teacher.

And then ourselves – yes, I’m sure that most of us have crossed the arrogant line at one time or another. Selfishly thinking that we are better than our peers or that we are better than the teacher. Not that it is wrong to recognize your talent, but it should never be at the expense of the others in the same classroom.

So, how do we deal with this?  How can we prevent confidence from changing to arrogance?

It all goes back to respect for all humans and respect for their place in their dance journey.   Dancers MUST respect their fellow dancers because our “tribe” is small and we need to encourage and work together to keep dance alive and healthy.  Teachers MUST respect students because they have given us their trust and made themselves vulnerable to what we say and how we say it.  We teachers have the power to encourage or discourage a dancer FOR LIFE.  It is a heavy responsibility.

And finally, We ourselves MUST respect ALL dancers on ALL technical levels because in actuality the love of dance is the great equalizer.

Spread Love,