Chelsea: Hi, it’s Dr. Chelsea, and this is the 100th episode of the Passion for Dance podcast! I’m a little surprised we’re here, maybe. I mean, I guess maybe it makes sense. My passion has become a passion for so many of you who are listening, so thank you for continuing to tune in and listen and send me all the messages about the podcast and how much it’s been helping. It really means a lot to me.
In honor of the 100th episode, I was trying to think of something special to do. Recently, when I was talking with Lauren Ritchie for the previous episode, part of our conversation led to this idea that so many things that shape who we are in our lives are actually small moments. They're not necessarily these huge occasions that we think these big milestones are gonna change everything. And, sure, there are probably some of those big moments, but a lot of it is in the small moments. And then when I was thinking about those small moments and how important they are and how much they add up, I was thinking that it’s not really even just the small moment. It’s the people you’re with when you experience it.
So, that’s what I want to talk about today is thinking about those small moments that shape who you are and then the special people who are with you when you experience it. So, rather than just telling stories, Lauren actually gave me this wonderful idea, and I took her up on it, that I asked a few different people who have been a part of my dance life at different stages, I asked them to just share a little story about some small moment and what it meant to them, and I told them that it could be a moment we experienced together. It could be something I did. I may not remember the moment at all, but I just wanted to hear from them. There was something small in our dance lives together that impacted them and then record my reactions to that.
So, you may be able to tell, compared to my normal episodes, I’m off script and just adlibbing as we go here, and that’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna play their messages and just record my honest immediate reaction. I’m usually someone who really tries to formulate my thoughts well. Before I record anything, I write it down. I really work through it, but I think some of the power of this is going to be just being raw and honest and unfiltered.
So, I hope you find this interesting, getting a little glimpse into me, different phases of my life. I’ve talked to people who I danced with, who I coached with, who were coached by me, and people who have known me in the more recent kind of consulting professional side, and I hope this encourages you to even pause and think about what are those small moments in your life that have really meant something to you, that have maybe really shaped who you are, and who was with you during those moments?
[Motivational Intro Music]
Welcome to the Passion for Dance podcast. I’m Dr. Chelsea, a former professional dancer and dance team coach turned sport psychologist. This podcast focuses on four main pillars: motivation, resilience, mindset, and community. Each week, you’ll learn actionable strategies, mindsets, and tips to teach your dancers more than good technique. This is a podcast where we can all make a lasting impact and share our passion for dance. Let’s do this!
[Motivational Intro Music]
Message from JeniSue – 3:39
JeniSue: I have many memories with you, but if I must choose one, I’d have to say being onstage with you. Whether it was The Christmas Story Ballet where you were the lead mother and I was Mary or our duet to “Via Delarosa,” every time I was onstage with you, I felt calm, and I felt like I could do anything out there. I miss those days, but I’m very blessed to have those memories.
Chelsea: Okay, this may be a little harder than I thought. I’m gonna get choked up, and we’re at the first one! That is someone that I shared the stage with a lot, and when she says that it made her feel calm and that she could do anything, I have to say I felt the same way in that it was unique when it was a duet or something that we were in together because the big group routines at our studio didn't always have that same feeling. There were plenty of them that were really fun and other connections I had with other dancers, but the ones specifically with her were different, and I think that comes from an incredible and genuine connection with someone that goes beyond the stage, and then when you get to share the stage with them, it heightens that whole experience. There was nothing performative about it. It wasn't about winning. It wasn't about the success of it. Even though a lot of what we did was very successful from a traditional studio competitive sense, my time onstage with her was different.
Yeah, it gets emotional to think about because it was unique, and it did feel like us against the world, like the two of us could do anything. We could take on any competitor. We could take on any style. We could just enjoy it, and the duet she’s referring to was a pointe duet that is probably my absolute most favorite memory on stage as a dancer. It’s definitely up there in the top three times I’ve ever been onstage, and I couldn't tell you a step we did anymore. I can just remember what it felt like, and it’s not really even about the routine. It was about who I was with.
So, I guess I’ll ask any of you listening, if you’ve had those moments, I hope you’ve had one of those onstage connections, one of those times where it doesn't matter what the style is or what moves you're doing or if it’s a competition or a performance, but the person you share the stage with completely changes your whole experience about it. And I agree that I am so grateful to have so many of those memories, and that that was such an important part of my own dance career, and when I think about how those small moments shaped me, I think I gained a lot of my confidence as a dancer from sharing the stage with her because she was and is stunning and beautiful, a wonderful, talented dancer, that I didn't always feel like I could match her. But she never let me feel that way. [Laughs] She always made sure that we were really in it together, and I think I stepped into myself and found my own confidence onstage that I don't know that I ever had in any other scenario, and it is because of who I was with onstage.
So, thank you for sharing that, and I hope any of you listening can think about a time when the person you were with onstage changed how it felt to be up there and maybe changed your experience as a dancer, and if they did, reach out and talk to them. Say something, and for some of you, that could have been last week. For some of you, that might have been 20 years ago, and I said this is gonna get hard for me because I haven't talked and really thought about that phase of life in a long time, and I’m really grateful I asked now, and I’m grateful I get to sit and think about those moments because I do think a lot of my — it’s not even just confidence. It’s just that sense that I can take a stage and know that I’ll be okay, and maybe now that’s teaching and speaking, but at the time, it was because I got to walk on that stage with that special person who made it feel safe, and I was always calm, too. That wasn't true in every routine, but when I was with her it was. So, thank you for sharing that with me.
Message From Brianna – 8:48
Brianna: I’m Brianna, and I’ve known Chelsea since I was a sophomore in high school. I’m now in my thirties. I have so many memories of our time together. Some of my most special and impactful memories were from when I got to coach the JV Broomfield Poms alongside Chelsea as the Varsity coach.
A specific time I look back on often was when we took the teams to camp, and I was able to spend some quality time with Chelsea as a peer. I remember during down time, Chelsea and I got to bond about personal and professional adult life. [Laughs] It meant a lot to me to have these intimate conversations and moments as I was growing into my new career in adulthood after college. I always looked up to Chelsea and respected her opinion, so to be able to talk as friends was more important to me than I ever really realized it would be.
I’d been a peer coach of my college dance team after high school, and I often questioned if I was successful in the role and if I was a good coach to my teammates, but Chelsea’s trust in me to coach, choreograph, and be a role model for these young women was incredibly validating and helped me see myself as a successful coach and leader. Chelsea, you knew I would thrive in the role and inspire a new generation, and for that opportunity I am forever grateful.
Chelsea: Okay, this just makes me smile, and thank you, Bri. I think we often experience these relationships where sometimes we are more in the mentor role, sometimes we’re the mentee, and I love those relationships, and I think they're so valuable to keep them going and to keep kind of changing which side of that relationship you're on your whole life. No matter how many years of experience you have in something, you keep finding another person a little further along the way. When you have someone who you look up to or you have someone who you admire and they give you a little bit of their time, it just means everything, and I don't remember that specific camp that she’s talking about. I’ve been to a lot of camps, but I do often really like to just sit and connect with my friends, my peers, and my coaching staff, and I feel like we have to get to know each other clearly past kind of where you're just teaching together or just coaching together. It’s who are you as people and what matters to you and what’s going on for you.
This was relatively early in my own coaching career. I don't know. I guess I don't know. I probably have been coaching maybe seven or eight years. But early enough that the idea that someone would look up to me for advice was still really crazy. [Laughs] So, it still felt weird, but yet really amazing and such an honor that she would feel that way. To me, I just see those moments as wanting to connect with someone who I really cared about and then wanting to be able to offer some sort of perspective and advice if I can, which I guess I’ve always done my whole life. But what that memory really makes me think about is how many times I have been like Bri in that scenario where I have been around someone that I look up to, that I care about, that I wish I could be like and have felt seen and heard by them, and I have many of those small moments when I’ve been on the mentee side of that where I get to be in someone’s presence who I just have so much admiration for and then ask them a question or have a chance to just go have lunch together, and when that person is so open and giving and connects, there’s no sense of hierarchy. There’s no sense of one of you is better. It’s just connecting, and I am so grateful that I have many people in my life who have been that to me, so to hear that Bri felt that way in conversations with me means a lot.
So, now, it makes me want to think through all of those people who I have had some sort of conversation where I wasn't sure what to do or I felt like I couldn't possibly be ready or confident enough to handle the situation, and that person has made me more comfortable or made me feel more confident and made me feel accepted and part of the group. I’m definitely gonna reach out to some of those people now that I’m thinking through that, and if you have the same, if you’ve ever had someone who, just by having some small conversation with you, really changed your, maybe, belief in yourself, I’ve definitely had people who believed in me before I did in myself, and I think that’s kind of what Bri was saying, that she wasn't yet confident in her coaching, but because I believed in her, she was able to start to believe in herself. And that, to me, is the power of coaching. That’s exactly what this is all about, that as teachers, we believe in our dancers before they often believe in themselves, and in this case, Bri went on to coach with me, and I believed in her ability to be a leader, absolutely. I had no question that she would be a wonderful role model for those dancers, but what I didn't know then was that she didn't yet believe in herself and needed me to do it first.
So, coaches and teachers, know how much of a difference you're making when you can put your confidence in someone and help them see a side of themselves that they may not know was there. It’s really special and really powerful.
Message From Carrie – 14:32
Carrie: My name is Carrie Nitchoff, and I have had the joy and honor and privilege of coaching beside Dr. Chelsea as well as for Dr. Chelsea. One core memory that I have that is very impactful for me is once, when I was her assistant, we had just kind of chosen our new team, a very large Varsity team, and our coaching staff had met at a local Mexican food restaurant and ended up just having the most amazing conversation, and it was in that moment that I knew that this friendship was something that was never going to be diminished by time or by distance. It was going to be imprinted on my heart. And her amazing ideology and her kind of coaching strategies were something that I knew that I always wanted to impart on all of my athletes as well. And so, I will always be grateful for that moment of belonging and inclusivity as well as clarity into how I wanted to move forward as a coach.
The second core memory for me is watching her speak to a team of athletes that I coached, and they're kind of hanging on her every word and her infectious energy about their mental strength as well as their physical strength will always be something that I will remember. She is a constant blessing in my life as well as the life of many others, and I am so grateful for her and her friendship.
Chelsea: Oh, the power of a really good dinner out with friends! That simple Mexican restaurant became a place that we went a lot. Wow, that’s something I need to sit with for a little bit. Carrie’s become such an important person in my life, and for her to say that she knew it in that moment feels pretty amazing, and I think it’s because of how aligned we are in our ideologies and what matters to us and what we want to teach to athletes. She’s right that in that moment, that early first team meeting, everything clicked together. It just felt right, and it’s not that we always perfectly agreed on what to do, but because we had the same core foundation to our approach to life and our approach to teaching our dancers, we could always come to an understanding and come to know exactly what we needed to do next, and we rarely disagreed, but if we did, the foundation was there, and it’s a really special teaching relationship to work with someone who is at that same core belief and has those same ideologies, and you know what matters most is never in question.
And those are absolutely some of my most favorite years coaching and teaching and teaching was when Carrie was with me because that alignment is so special, and maybe some of you have teachers that you work with within your studio or coaches that you are with in your program, and you know what that connection is like when you find the right person that just makes everything easier to deal with, even all the yucky stuff, it’s just easier to do because that person is with you. When I think about those small moments — she was just talking about there’s just that one simple dinner after tryouts, and it all clicked for her. I think there are sometimes those small things where it just does feel a little bit like a click of, like, “That’s it! This is my person in the dance world who is always going to understand me, who is always going to believe me and always gonna back me up in anything I ever needed,” and she’s definitely that person for me.
I think my take home from this, my moment from this, if I can stop rambling and half-crying and think about what this really means, it’s that when you find people who value the same things that you do and who are on a similar purpose in their life, and you get to work together, it changes your whole experience, and it makes — I would do all this coaching work by myself, but I don't want to. I want to do it with the people next to me, and I think that’s a big part of this whole conversation today, that these small moments are actually the big moments, but it’s not just the small moment. It’s because of the people you're with, and it’s because I was with someone who is so aligned with my heart that it felt so big, and that simple dinner was not so simple because of the people I was with.
Message From Angela – 19:36
Angela: Dr. Chelsea, this is Angela Ottmann from Ponderosa High School and CSCA, and we have been friends for a very long time. I wanted to just give you a big, fat, huge congratulations on your hundredth episode for the Passion for Dance! Our relationship has built from being coaches together to building our relationship through the association of the Colorado Spirit Coaches Association. So, some of the nuggets that I have witnessed through our relationship as friends and working through business things together is just that you're so approachable and you're constantly learning to be a better you, and with that, you touch lives to be giving tools to humans to be better people as well. That is one of the largest nuggets I can get, and the piece that I’d like to share was the controlling of the controllables where you could only control what you can control, and don't wrap yourself up into something that is out of your control, right, because then it’s useless energy.
But the second little nugget that I’d like to share is when you came in for my team, and you were actually coaching my captains, giving them some nuggets on how they could be better leaders and how to think out of the box, how to do something that’s gonna be meaningful for them to be better leaders in this journey of dance.
Another thought that came to my mind was your contributor award that you received from the National Dance Coaches Association. You’ve constantly been growing in your journey to educate all of us in the world of life, not only through dance, but just through life tools, and with that, you’ve always been a connector, a person that could dot-dot-dot-dot and connect humans to humans for different things. And I always have admired that about you because you made me somebody that resonates with you for some purpose and then you immediately think of another human and they should be friends, and you take the energy and the time to connect the dots. And then the next thing you know there’s just a bunch of us that are all in the same sphere because we are all crazy dance humans, and we are the people, and you are one of those people that continues to grow, and your box emulates because you are constantly thinking of different ways that you can help all of us be better humans. That has resonated in my journey with you as you’ve been just a coach, now you're a doctor, now you're still teaching at the collegiate level, you're still doing this offline, and you're still inspiring so many of us. And for that, all of us want to say thank you and wish you continued success, and we love you so much!
Chelsea: I don't know that I’ve ever thought of myself as a connector the way she says that. That feels amazing. I will accept that. Thank you! I do love connections, but I usually see them as I want to connect with someone, and then I guess it is just a natural extension of that. If I feel like there’s another connection out there that will serve someone I care about, I’m gonna make it happen. It’s interesting to have somebody kind of reflect back to you how you appear to them. We don't always see ourselves the way other people see us, right? I do love connections and community, and that’s why community is one of the pillars of this whole podcast because I do believe in the value of connections. But I didn't see it quite as strongly as Angela has said, and that means a lot that that’s how it’s perceived by others because I do think that that’s a huge mission in what I do is that, as she says, we’re the crazy dance humans. It’s why we’re still here and we’re still trying to make this a better industry and keep having a bigger and better positive impact on the young dancers that we’re with, and I think we do that best by connecting to other people who care about the same thing, and that’s what this was all about, and I guess that’s maybe a great way to kind of think through what this all means together, what all four of them have said.
You know, it’s small moments, small conversions at camp, or small moments together onstage, just dinners with friends, and those small moments are what build our true connections, what make it go deeper than just a colleague or someone that I work with or someone that I coach with or that I might teach. When you spend that quality time together and build a true relationship that lasts through all of the ups and downs of our crazy dance industry, and I am so grateful for those connections that have kept pushing me forward, and I really appreciate what Angela said about bringing in ideas and continuing to push things forward. I do try to do that. I want to do that, and I do know what she was talking about with her leaders. That was a really special one, too. There were three leaders that year, specifically, who really genuinely wanted to be the best they could possibly be, and, right, like any dancer, that’s who we want to coach. You want to coach the ones who want to learn and be their best. That was a special one for me for sure.
But the point that it’s these small moments that you may not remember all the details, but you remember how you felt coming away from it or you remember how much lighter you feel because of it, and it’s one of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes that people won't remember what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel. And that has been a personal life mantra for me for a long time, and that’s how I try to approach the world, and I hope that sharing some of these small moments with all of you today maybe helps build more connections and helps you reach out and build your community even tighter, reach out and talk to those people maybe you haven't talked to in a while, but who were a really important small moment in your life, and keep working to build those moments because I really believe a big part of our experience and our life is not in the big moments. It’s in all of those small moments, and we can't let them pass by without pausing to recognize how really powerful they are. So, cheers to all those small moments, and especially to all those incredible people who are with you in that moment.
Thank you for being a part of this podcast community, whether you’ve been here for one episode or a hundred, this connection is powerful, and I hope that you can take this forward. Take this momentum of community building and those small moments forward. I’ll do an action challenge today, like I always like to wrap up, and say find one person who was an important part of a small moment in your life and check in with them today. Send them a quick text. Give them a call. Give them a big hug if you get to see them in person. Whatever works for you but find someone who maybe you thought of throughout this conversation, and go connect with them today.
Thank you for being here, and I will keep saying it, and I hope you keep doing it. Keep sharing your passion for dance with the world!
[Motivational Outro Music]
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