The professional world of dance has many different and varied opportunities for dancers of all styles and backgrounds. From concert dance companies to Broadway to Bandaloop (vertical dance), any dancer can find their niche and make a living doing what they love.
Within all of the myriad opportunities in the professional dance world, there are several commonalities. One such common thread is the ability to work with other dancers in duos, trios, small groups, and large ensembles.
The number of solo dancers in the professional world that do nothing but dance on their own is infinitesimal. This is because, like all performing arts, dance is a collaborative effort. Even in the creation of a solo piece, a dancer must work with the choreographer, lighting designer, videographer (if it is dance for film), and so many other people who help bring artistic visions to life.
No matter what, dance is a team effort and a collaborative sport.
This “bigger picture” mindset is one of THE MOST important skill sets any dancer can have. It’s what makes good dancers, choreographers, dance captains, swings, designers, directors, and well-rounded humans. It’s not a matter of, "How high can I get my leg up?” It’s, “How high do I get my leg up to be in line with the other dancers; what timing is my leg fully extended so we all match; and at what angle should my leg be in order to not hit another dancer?” By dancing with others, we engage another part of the performance brain that has a wider scope.
The ability to think outside of one’s own experience and focus on the group, the bigger picture, helps a young dancer practice taking the egoic self out of the main focus and bring forth the work into the spotlight. This is another VITALLY important mindset to develop in any performer. In a field where criticism is constant and coming from many sources, a performer MUST be able to separate themselves from their work. They must detach their value as a human from their professional performance. No matter what, dance is what they do, not who they are.
Working with other dancers forces a performer to think about the group first and how they can benefit the whole. This group work opens mental pathways that lead to more grounded people and performers who can collaborate effectively, have empathy for others, and broaden their perspective past their own personal experience. Not only do duo, trios, and groups make better dancers, they make better humans.
Paul is a New York City based performer/choreographer with a background in musical theatre, commercial dance, aerial work, and yoga. He has been a proud part of the IDA team for the last two years.
Photos by: Daedalus Media at Diva Dance Competition