Living on Purpose

As I write this I am less than one week away from a month long trip to Europe. I have travelled to Europe before and have even had the privilege of living in Paris for 3 months. I have travelled so much already in my life and for last few years I have been blessed enough to travel with my fiance. I have never been wealthy and grew up with very modest means- but I have still had the opportunity to travel an enormous amount. Every time someone asks where we are going, I hear the same thing: “You’re so lucky.” Now, I am not one of those people that doesn’t believe in “luck” at all. There does seem something serendipitous about life, some right place right time phenomenon that does seem to be a little about luck. However, living my dream and traveling the world was not a stroke of luck. I built this life, brick by brick and stayed my course in some very rough weather. Often, people will ask me how I did it… so here are some lessons I learned (sometimes the hard way) that may help you toward your dream life.

1. When you get told “no,” instead hear, “not right now”

The entertainment industry is an animal that’s likely to swallow you whole if you aren’t careful. In my line of work I hear the word no 100 times more than I hear yes. I have seen so many people hear the word no and take it to mean never and give up on a goal. If you are persistent, the word no will turn to yes with time. Often, you are being redirected, not denied. I auditioned for agencies 10 times over a span of 2 years before I was signed. Yes, sometimes it became frustrating, but instead of focusing on that no and giving up, I redirected my energy. In time my number was called and when it was, I was ready.

2. Make the most of your time

Before I had an agent I always heard the same thing, ” you NEED an agent to work in NY or LA as a dancer.” I could easily have taken that as an excuse to wait around until someone signed me. However, I knew that no one would ever want to work for me unless I was motivated enough to work for myself- so I did. Instead of waiting for an agent to sign me and work for me, I worked for myself. As an unsigned dancer I performed on the news, Bravo TV, at Madison Square Garden as a Knicks City Dancer and I choreographed a world tour, danced in countless music videos and taught classes all over the world. You don’t NEED anything but a voracious desire to live your dream and a belief that in spite of any obstacle, you can succeed.

3. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re not good enough- not even yourself.

My bosses at my first professional job told me that I wasn’t good enough to make it in this industry. They said I simply didn’t have what it took- less than a month later I toured the world as a choreographer/artistic director and dancer for Kat Deluna. Just recently I had a studio owner from a school that was holding a master class for Matt and I, ask me why I was even bothering to come- because people only cared about Matt being there. I went anyway, and at the end of the day every single student in that room made me feel loved and appreciated- and thanked me profusely for what I brought to the table in that classroom. At the end of the day, this world will be full of opinions. Some in your favor and some against you- you must take them ALL in stride. Don’t let the positive feedback make you cocky or the negative feedback destroy you. Everyone has an opinion and thats a fact you need to learn to live with. Someone else’s inability to see your worth does not make you any less valuable. Surround yourself with the people who do see your unique and unmatchable value on this earth, people who stoke your fire and inspire you to be your best self and ultimately, love yourself. The only opinion on this earth that will make or break you, is your opinion of yourself. It is so important that you do your best to stay out of your own way. You are worthy, you are good enough, you are powerful and you have what it takes to make your goals a reality.

4. Practice what you preach, be a person of your word and always be on time

These things are age old lessons but they are so massively important in both our professional and personal lives. When you say your going to do something, follow through with it. Whether its a job, someone’s birthday or sending an e-mail. It may seem insignificant to you, but you must be someone that others can depend on. To truly function at your highest potential you must positively impact the lives of those around you. Show up for people when you say you will, let people know you are honest. Never say behind closed doors what you wouldn’t say to someone’s face.

Don’t keep people waiting. Our time on earth is limited and it is the most valuable thing we possess. If people choose to spend any minutes of their life with you be grateful for that gift. Whatever you are doing with your life, do it well, and do it gently. There is no force on this earth more powerful than kindness. To truly live the life of your dreams you must put nothing but good vibes, love and positivity out into the world. Everyday I try to do something kind for a stranger. I by food for the homeless, let someone pull out in a rough spot in traffic, help elderly carry groceries, anything I can. We are not on this earth alone and the most important thing to leave behind you is love and light, wherever you go.

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5 thoughts on “Living on Purpose

  1. Love the lessons Dana. Thanks for the insight and for sharing. I’m a dancer from Kenya specialising mostly in Afro-Latin dances but lately I’ve been exploring hip-hop and other dance forms to fuse into my dances, expand my body movement, creativity and musicality. Love what you and Matt are doing. Love both your styles of dancing. Enjoy your trip to Europe!

  2. Thank you Dana , for everything , you’re amazing , you’re one of the reasons why I’m dancing right now and you inspire me everyday , you’re my idol like usher to Matt , last year I had the opportunity of meet you in your tour in Colombia Medellin , maybe you don’t remember me but its ok because I’ve the best memories and the best selfies , I enjoy so much everything you do , I appreciate your talent and I hope to see you again and maybe in LA! xx

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