When Dance Turns Ugly – Part #2 Jealousy


Last week we looked at arrogance in the dance world – the first of a four part series When Dance Turns Ugly. This week we have a new topic.  Jealousy. Jealousy. Jealousy. Such an intense word associated with such an intense emotion. As you know, I usually like to start with a definition. So – here it is:

Jealousy – a feeling of resentment against someone because of that person’s rivalry, success, or advantages.

Being jealous really is an uncomfortable emotion. And there seems to be two types of dancer jealousy.

The first is the “I’M NO GOOD” jealousy. The observations start innocent enough – “He’s such a great turner”, “She has such beautiful feet”, “He is so strong – look at him leap.” But all too often these observations morph into comparisons – “I can’t turn like him”, “My feet are ugly compared to hers”, “My leaps are not like his.” This can lead to – “Then I must not be a good dancer.” It’s a self-defeating place characterized by low self-esteem and lack of motivation. Dancers may quit trying because they will “never catch up” or can “never be on that level.” Its’ heart-breaking.

The other type of jealousy is the “TEACHER’S PET” jealousy. You all know it – “She gets all the parts because she is the ‘teachers’ pet'”. “He gets special privileges because he kisses up.” This too is dangerous territory and is detrimental to all involved. The “Teacher’s Pet” jealousy denies the successful dancer proper recognition because their hard work and diligence is minimized by this type of jealousy. But it also hurts the dancer who is jealous. This type of jealousy becomes a self-defeating place to be.  Many times the jealous dancer will use this as a “way out” of working hard  and eventually giving up on dance. Again- heart-breaking.

So, how do we combat jealousy?

First, let’s acknowledge jealousy for what it is. Jealousy creeps in when our dance focus changes to external achievements rather than internal fulfillment. Unfortunately our definition of dance success becomes measurable  – “To be a good dancer I need to do X amount of turns like her, or I have to leap X high like him.” But I challenge the thought that dance is a measurable art. There are no units to measure expression. There are no numbers to measure creativity. There are no factors to measure style.

Do we dance to accomplish five pirouettes like her?     I hope we pirouette to express circular motion.

Do we dance to accomplish eight foot leaps like him?    I hope we leap to create a joyful movement phrase.

Do we dance each weekend to beat someone at competition?    I hope we dance each weekend to inspire someone in the audience.

The next time we find ourselves feeling the green-eyed monster upon us, let’s try to stop comparing and measuring ourselves against others and re-focus our attention to why we dance. If we keep our intentions clear, then it won’t matter what anyone else is accomplishing. All that should matter will be what we create, how we express, and who we inspire.


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