Dark Days of Dance Practice

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Stephen Marino Photography

I can’t count how many times I’ve yelled, cursed, and stamped my feet while attempting to do my best during practice. I’ve gotten so angry with myself for not being able to perform the simplest steps that I contemplated chopping off my legs. It feels as though I can’t do anything right and no matter how hard I try, I only do worse. Tension in my chest would build, I couldn’t think straight, and I grew more emotionally compromised. All I wanted to do was scream at the top of my lungs and cry out my frustration.

Stephen Marino Photography
Stephen Marino Photography

Bad Days

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We all have bad days, and this is something you have to accept. There are days when nothing goes right for us, no matter what we do to try to improve it, and we curse the Universe for it, but not every day is going to be full of sunshine and rainbows. If you’re having a bad day, just take it for what it is, accept that it’s out of your hands, and move on. Fighting it and obsessing over it will only frustrate you even further, so don’t force anything. You can tell yourself, “It’s just one of those days.” Tomorrow will be a different story. Live for the moment and drop all expectations. Just breathe, and deal with the cards you’re dealt. Life isn’t easy, and you don’t have to make it harder.

Stephen Marino Photography
Stephen Marino Photography

Mental and Emotional State

If you’re like anyone else, you’ve got a lot going on in your head. You must be thinking of work while making a list of what you need at the grocery store. And let’s not forget that ugly argument you had earlier with your significant other. Juggling all those thoughts can burden you when you’re trying to focus on one thing, and you subconsciously bring that to the dance floor. With so much happening, your mind is being spread thin, and there’s only so much you can do to focus. Subconsciously, your mental and emotional state will manifest itself through your body. An easy example is when one feels defensive, they immediately cross their arms or turn their body away from a subject. Or, when one is interested in something, their body language will give the attention. Dancing is no different. My coach once asked me to stand on one foot and lift the other. Simple, right? “Now close your eyes.” He said. As soon as I did, I completely lost balance. I repeated that so many times, my frustration and embarrassment ever growing, that I could barely stay balanced even with my eyes open. He explained to me that the reason why I couldn’t stay balanced is because my mind was busy. Once I cleared my mind, my body will relax and I could focus.

Stephen Marino Photography
Stephen Marino Photography

Don’t Punish Yourself

None of us are perfect; we never will be. No matter how hard we strive for perfection, it is impossible because we will never be happy with ourselves. We are our own worst critics, after all. We expect so much of ourselves that we turn a blind eye to all the good things about us. At our worst, we begin to demean and punish ourselves for lacking the ability to be good at something that we know we’re perfectly capable of. We begin to lose faith in ourselves and we doubt who we are because of our disappointments. Thoughts like, “I’ll never be good enough” or “What the f*ck is wrong with me?” might have crossed your mind. Putting yourself down is the worst thing you can do. You completely disregarded the hard work you pushed yourself through to get to where you are, and you don’t give yourself enough credit. If you wouldn’t want someone to disrespect you, why would you do that to yourself? Against all odds, you became who you are today because of all the struggles and obstacles you’ve overcome. This difficult moment is no different, so be kind to yourself.

Stephen Marino Photography
Stephen Marino Photography

You’re Worth More Than You Think

Just because you can’t perform your steps correctly the first, second, or hundredth time doesn’t mean you’re unworthy of being a dancer. There isn’t a manual to being a human being that says you have to get something right the first time, and pass with flying colors. You’re going to stumble, you’re going to fall, and as much as you hate to admit it, you’re going to fail. Many times. Understand that working on your flaws, in all aspects of life, makes you a better person. You might not get it today or tomorrow, but someday you will. Because you want to. Look back at where you started and appreciate yourself for having gotten to where you are today. You’ve grown in so many ways because of all the experiences you’ve endured. You have to admit– you’re not the same person as you were before. You’re better. You’re stronger. You’re smarter. You’re worth more than you think.

Author: Emily Chen
Photography: Stephen Marino Photography
Exclusively for Dance Comp Review

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