[Motivational Intro Music]
Chelsea: Hi, it’s Dr. Chelsea! Welcome to the Passion for Dance podcast where we talk about mindset, motivation, and resilience in dance. Today, I have kind of a stream of consciousness episode where I was inspired to share my mind, and so, I just wrote it all down, and now I want to share it with you.
I had the extreme pleasure of watching the national tour of Hamilton when it first came to town, and I know it’s been around for a little while. I recently watched it on TV again just to soak in the dance and the music. I love it. Of course, I cried, I laughed, but I left inspired. This is what I want to talk about.
One of the parts that stuck with me was Alexander’s speech about his legacy. These are his lyrics:
“Legacy. What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see. I wrote some notes at the beginning of a song someone will sing for me. America, you great unfinished symphony, you sent for me. You let me make a difference.”
I left thinking about legacy. How do you build a legacy that you're proud of? What does that even mean? So here are my thoughts on building our own legacies, because a teacher’s impact lasts long after we’ve left the classroom.
[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]
Building Legacy – 1:51
I believe every coach has the opportunity to build a legacy for their program or through their studio or their team. We are building a legacy we won't always get to see come to fruition, and that can be hard to think through, but a legacy that will make a difference, nonetheless. Not every coach is going to last 10, 15, 20 years. There are some of those gems out there who are pretty rare in our industry for people to last more than five years in one place. If you're one of those long-term coaches or teachers who have been at your studio for decades, or you aspire to be, you are in a position to create a legacy that is bigger than you.
When I started thinking about this, I paused to see what legacy even means. The dictionary defines it as: “Something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.”
So what are we trying to transmit? What are we trying to send to those who will come after us? What is the legacy that you want to build for your program? It’s not about your personal legacy, per say, but your program’s legacy. What do you want to pass down to future dancers? What are you transmitting from one year to the next? When your athletes are grown and gone from your team, what will they take with them? What will new members of your team this year receive from their predecessors?
Good leaders think about the legacy they want to leave behind, even if they are years away from leaving the helm of the ship. Maybe your legacy comes in the form of a mantra you always say that sticks with your dancers, or maybe it’s a life lesson about hard work and drive that guides them in their career ten years later. Maybe it’s a feeling of belonging, teamwork that they go on to instill in their own team someday.
Legacy is something passed down by our predecessors and, I think for a coach, that legacy is both a feeling and a behavior. Legacy is not tangible, right? You can't pass down a legacy of championship rings. But you can build a legacy of work ethic, positive mindset, positive emotions that continue to make championships possible.
Legacy in Competitive Dance Team World – 4:03
When you're thinking about this in a competitive dance team world, consider any team you admire with a string of success. When a new dancer makes that team or joins that studio, she doesn't just get to put a logo on her new uniform and instantly become a success. Each dancer has to earn that each time. Same with each team. You don't just inherit the success of the teams before you, but you could inherit the culture that made it possible.
The legacy you inherit from your predecessors is more of a mindset, a feeling of confidence and belonging. Those things help you reach your own level of success in your own way if you do the work. The first few years I was coaching, I definitely wasn't thinking about legacy. I thought I would coach a few years, help my little sister enjoy dance again, and then move on. I was really just in survival mode and there to help my sister. But fast forward ten years after that, and I started to realize the lasting effect that my work was having, even if I didn't get to see it.
The Legacy of My Team – 5:07
In the last few years of coaching, I really started to be intentional about the legacy of my team. I thought about what I wanted my dancers to take with them when they graduated. I thought about feelings that I wanted to instill, what mantra I wanted them to remember, what it meant to be a part of our legacy.
That also meant I started to intentionally teach aspects of my desired legacy to those of the team. I say things like, “If there’s one thing you take away,” or I just made sure I had the same little speech before competitions or performances or when practices were hard, so that it would stick with them. I was thinking about 10, 20 years later when they're not necessarily in the dance world but they have a big challenge in front of them or they're nervous about something or they're trying to kind of work up the courage to do something hard. How cool if my voice is in the back of their head somewhere, if they have this mantra or this feeling that comes up to support them years later that’s based on the legacy of this program.
I also talked about the importance of alumni support and encourage and invite alumni to come visit all the time and help the current team, because there’s nothing like alumni coming back and positively supporting the current team to really demonstrate what it means to be a part of a legacy.
Say, just a high school program, for example. You're part of something bigger than just this year or bigger than just the last four years. But even at studios, you are a part of something that has been in existence long before you. Even if it’s a newer studio, you have the ability to start that.
So if you're listening, and you're like, “This is our first year,” or “This is my first time with my program. I don't have alumni,” or “I don’t have people to bring back,” that’s okay. Think about what you get to create. You get to start that.
“Tradition Never Graduates” – 6:59
There is one team here at home in Colorado where I live that I’ve always admired for their legacy. Once you're part of their family, it just doesn't stop. They have this great tradition that every graduating senior gets a T-shirt at their senior banquet with the team logo on the front and “tradition never graduates” on the back. I love that mantra. I love that idea. That’s what I mean by creating this legacy is it doesn't graduate. It doesn't leave you once you move on to that next stage of your life.
I hope the team legacy was clear to my athletes, and when I’m being real about my own reflection, I wasn’t good at creating it intentionally until just the last few years. But it was better late than never. I hope the current team and coaches just build on that legacy and make it their own. I’m proud that I planted seeds of passion and work ethic in my dancers that have grown up now, even though I may never get to see the results. But I’m okay with that. I don't need to see the end to know that the team legacy I built mattered to someone.
What is Your Legacy? – 8:03
That’s what I want to remind you of today. You may not get to see what your legacy leads to or all this work that you’ve created and what it means to dancers years and years and years later. You won't necessarily see what it’s done for them, but that’s okay. You don't have to see where it landed to know that what you're doing right now matters.
So I hope you’ll pause and let that sink in a little bit today. What seeds are you planting? What is your legacy? You can intentionally create something that long outlasts the technique you teach, the choreography you create. Formulate your own legacy. Plant the seeds you may never see. That’s one important way we can always keep sharing our passion for dance with the world.
[Motivational Outro Music]
Hi dance coaches and teachers! If you are a dance educator, it’s important to make sure you are on my email list. It’s only for educators. It’s only for educators. It’s where I keep you all updated on my mental skills workshops, the Relevé Membership, and even some special trainings coming up that are only available inside the membership. My email list is where I provide extra resources for dance educators and tips to help you and support you through this teaching journey.
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