“A connection with a teacher can be life changing; their validation impacts how you feel about yourself. They encourage you to work through difficulties, when you are filled with doubt. You sweat and sometimes even moan under their increasing demands. They celebrate with you when you achieve your goals. Different teachers connect with you in different ways and in turn help you to understand unique qualities that you had yet to uncover.” Sarah Minol chats with Dani Brown at Dancetrain about the importance of teachers in dance training.
What did you struggle with most whilst you were a student training and did this change as you grew older?
One of the things I struggled with most was having confidence in myself and believing in my abilities. Classical Ballet is an art form where you are constantly striving for perfection. Standing in front of a mirror everyday constantly taking constructive feedback and always trying to improve. I often would put myself down and give up if I felt like I was failing. I had wonderful teachers, particularly at the McDonald College that really assisted me in working on having a positive mindset.
My family support was also always amazing (I’m very lucky to have the best supportive parents that would do anything for their children). Now I am older and teaching I have lots of confidence.
Being successful in your career and seeing your students succeed really assisted me in developing a greater self esteem and believing in my abilities.
What is one of your most memorable moments as a student?
I had many memorable moments as a student. My most memorable would have to be dancing at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London in the Genée final in 1998/1999. This was such a wonderful experience and I feel truly lucky to have been given that amazing opportunity. The theatre inside was absolutely breathtaking and something I will never forget.
In an era where children are being conditioned to want everything right now, how do help them understand that the art of learning dance cannot work this way?
The demand for instant results is in every part of our lives. From the internet to streaming movies, watching live dance performances, ordering an Uber or using apps etc we are conditioned to be able to get what we want instantly. The art of learning dance cannot work this way. Dance is a visual art form that is about the lines created with the body, dynamic energies explored and self-expression, to evoke emotion in an audience through conveying a concept or story or just for dance sake. It requires constant perfecting and work to improve body control, strength, endurance, coordination, flexibility etc. Without a consistent work ethic and the ability to push and drive yourself intrinsically this constant striving for perfection is very hard to achieve.
Dancers need to have the ability to be resilient, take on constructive feedback and constantly strive to improve.
The advice I would give to students and parents is: Find a teacher that motivates, mentors and drives you to achieve better. It is also really important that the dancer wants to improve and constantly strive to achieve THEIR best 100% of the time. Be present in ALL lessons – Mindful, focused, attentive. Take all feedback on board. Set and achieve goals. Try to have a positive attitude at all times – Use emotion or times when you feel down as fuel to improve and work harder. Have fun and be passionate about it.
Original article taken from Dancetrain (Teachers, 2019).