Be authentic- Sugar coating leads to cavities 😉

I feel like now a days everyone wants everything sugar coated and wrapped with a pretty pink bow. God forbid someone doesn’t like you- or something you did.. Then they’re a “hater.”
 They’re automatically dismissed as not liking you simply because they are miserable and jealous. It’s impossible for someone to not like you for valid reasons, it’s obvious they are just a shitty person trying to drag you down inexplicably- because the sun does shine out of your butt after all- right? If they thought your class wasn’t inspiring or you we unprepared, they’re clearly just idiots who hate you. I’m sorry, but what? 

I don’t know if it’s because I’m a New Yorker or because I’m a realist but the last thing I want are people around me telling me everything I do is great and never criticizing me. Because not everything I do is great. Sometimes I’m a bitch, or I didn’t meet my potential or I could have done better and I appreciate when the people who love me call me on that. 

Yes, there are people who will say what you’re doing isn’t good simply out of “hate-” A place of insecurity and jealousy. But sometimes people won’t like you because you acted like an asshole or not like your work because you didn’t put enough effort into it.
Before we go around dismissing every negative word as a hater just talking sh!t, we need to listen, toughen up and accept that sometimes the negative feedback is spot on. Accepting the parts of us that are less than perfect requires putting ego aside and not being defensive.
Conversely, we can’t be afraid to tell the truth- If you don’t like someone there is no need to be rude, hateful, vengeful or malicious. We should never bully- NEVER bully- and we shouldn’t dwell on people or things we dislike. However, there is also no need to be fake and over the top. You are entitled to not like someone- or not like someone’s work. If someone asks you if you like so and so as a person, or as a teacher- you can politely explain that whoever it is isn’t your cup of tea and move on. Don’t be bullied into not having an opinion for fear of being called a hater. If you have valid, supportable reasons for disapproving of someone, then you aren’t a hater. It is important to not be catty or vicious and try to be fair and gentle when voicing a negative opinion on someone. It is also important to formulate your own opinions based on your own personal interactions with people and not simply jump on a bandwagon of liking or disliking someone. 

We aren’t doing people any favors by fabricating the truth. By keeping people from ever hearing a critical word we create people who panic when one person doesn’t like them or says something nasty. We leave them ill prepared for actual Haters. On that token, it’s important to give negative feedback in a loving, productive way. The adage “if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all,” still holds true. Something that’s critical can still be said NICELY. For example- if a friend asks if they look fat- if you have noticed they’ve put on weight it’s not cool to just say “no not at all.” It’s your responsibility to a friend to tell them the honest truth in a loving way- you could say something like- ” you know, I had noticed that you put on a few pounds. You don’t look fat at all and you’re always beautiful but if you want some help shedding some extra weight I’m always happy to go to the gym with you!” 

So often I see people wearing clothes that don’t suit their bodies or just doing things that don’t seem to be in line with their highest potential and I always think, “damn don’t they have any best friends to give them some feedback?” Sometimes we can’t see ourselves or the situations we are in as clearly as people can see them from a third party perspective. The truth is they probably DID ask their friends- “hey, should I wear this crop top” and their friends said “oh yea! You look AMAZING.” Instead of, “maybe not- how about this shirt instead.” Is that a friend? Someone who just tells you what you want to hear? Not in my opinion. 

Look at every young celebrity having a meltdown and I promise it’s you it’s because they’re around a camp of people who just do what they want and tell them what they want to hear. 

We can’t grow or be challenged, and our industry can’t evolve if all anyone ever hears is that everything is perfect. If you took a class you hated, tell the studio the class was sub par. If you worked for an organization that didn’t treat you fairly, call your agency and tell them. If you get hired for a job that you feel compromises your morals or message then let them know, if they can’t work with you- walk away.

I’ve grown a lot from listening to feedback, negative and positive and I only keep people in my circle who keep it REALLLLLL- even if sometimes the truth hurts. The people who care about you will tell you the truth- for better or worse. By hearing about the bad parts of myself from people who I love and trust- it’s become so easy to dismiss “hate.” When someone goes on and on about not liking me for some crazy reason I can confidently say, that’s cool- that’s obviously just hate because that’s not even me and that person doesn’t know me lol. 

If everyone in your circle always tells you you’re the best person on earth and everything you do is perfect then it might be wise to keep a closer eye on em. We are all human and some days we suck- find people who will tell you when you suck and help you be the best version of yourself.  Just be brave enough to accept it, face it, learn from it and grow. 

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. the Dance: Lessons in Dance Class Etiquette

Every dancer out here knows this summer in LA has been wild. There are more dancers than ever before- which is a beautiful thing. People are here from every city in the world- to take class, practice their craft and be inspired.

The enthusiasm for learning and training is so awesome… but what’s not awesome is the lack of class etiquette! When I went to dance school, back in the stone age, we didn’t only learn to dance- we learned RESPECT. We learned how to TAKE class properly… and I’m afraid those messages of discipline and proper behavior are long lost. So I’ve dug them up, dusted off the cobwebs and have decided to list some of the most important aspects of class etiquette here.

Think class etiquette isn’t important? More important to just get the choreo and have fun? Well how about this- I can promise you that if you are not behaving properly in someone’s class, the instructor notices. I can also promise you that no matter how dope you are, if you are rude or disrespectful- or just outright oblivious in class- that choreographer will not book you for work. If you cannot behave properly when you are paying to be somewhere – why would you when we are paying you to be there? Time is money and no one wants to work with someone who is not focused, cannot follow instructions or slacks off.

Does that sound important? Well good. Because it is. You build your reputation, and therefor your career, as a dancer every time you step onto a dance floor. Take class, but take it seriously and correctly, or don’t take it at all.

Yes, dance is fun- but here in LA its also a JOB and training is not to be taken lightly. People are paying hard earned money and dedicating their lives to being here. People have moved from their homes and families, some dancers are so broke they are living in their cars or with multiple roommates, or maybe working two jobs- just for the privilege of being in LA to train and pursue their dream. It is our responsibility to each other, to the dance community, to make a positive learning environment where dancers can grow and excel.

1. Do not talk when the instructor is speaking. So often in class I see dancers turn around and talk loudly to their friends while a teacher is addressing the class. That’s really rude and huge no-no if you ask me!

2. When dancers are performing in groups at the end of class, MOVE ALL THE WAY OFF THE DANCE FLOOR. it’s fine to practice on the side but make sure you are as far off the floor as possible. If the choreographer is filming, be sure to clear the back as well. CLAP when the group goes out and when they finish. When its your turn to perform in a group don’t you want space and support from your classmates and peers? I’m sure you do. So, treat other dancers with that same respect.

3. When a teacher asks you to switch lines, SWITCH LINES.

4. When a teacher asks you to “watch”- STOP moving and watch the instructor. Don’t dance along with the instructor- JUST watch.

5. If you want to stand in front, WORK HARD. You are at the front of the class and are often serving as an example to the people behind you. If you have no energy or want to mess around with friends, stand in the back. If you are in the front dance full out and work at your full potential.

6. When the teacher asks the front half of the room to squat down, the front HALF needs to squat down- not just the front line. If you are from the middle to the front, regardless if you are off to the side- squat down.

7.PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN. If you want to tape yourself at the end of class, fine. But you should not be touching your phone to take selfies or doing anything else during class. Also, if you are going to have someone else video tape you, have them squat down directly in front of you. Sometimes, people will stand in the middle of a group, or reach their arms almost in the faces of other dancers in order to capture their friend while other dancers are trying to practice or perform. Be respectful of every other dancer in the room when you are taping or taking class.

Those are my most important rules for class etiquette when training in professional dance studios. Learn em, love em, USE EM!

Have any that I missed? I’d love to hear what you think is important and appropriate class behavior! Leave your most important rules in the comments below. Happy Training!