Ep. 148 Transcript - Dr. Chelsea Pierotti

Ep. 148 Transcript

[Motivational Intro Music]

Chelsea: Hi, dancers! It's Dr. Chelsea. You're listening to the Passion for Dance podcast, where it is my mission to create happier, more successful dancers through positive mental skills. And today, I want to talk to the dancers out there who have big dreams and goals in our dance industry but maybe you need help to develop a little grit.

Even if you've never heard of grit, I bet you've seen it or you've felt it. Grit is the mental skill that could be the difference between making the team you have your heart set on, getting that challenging turn section, or staying stuck at your current level. Dancers who develop grit are the dancers who make it to their next level. So, today, dancers, I will share what grit is, why you need it, and how you can start practicing this mental skill today to see a real difference in your dance skills tomorrow.

And if you enjoy the show, get something out of it, find some value, and you want to learn more about positive mental skills as a dancer, please take a minute to follow the show. Go to www.followthepodcast.com/passionfordance. You can follow in one click, then each new episode is ready for you wherever you get your podcasts. That's www.followthepodcast.com/passionfordance. Then come right back here and let's talk about becoming a gritty dancer.


[Motivational 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 Music]


What Is Grit and How Do We Get It? – 1:49

So what is grit and how do we get it? There are two key areas to focus on when it comes to grit. So, by definition, it's actually pretty simple. Grit is the combination of passion and persistence. That means in order to be a gritty dancer, you work to develop a healthy passion for dance and constantly challenge yourself to create a strong persistence.

So, before I go into passion and persistence, I want to point out why being a gritty dancer even matters, and it's simply because most dancers won't develop that skill. They’ll quit or plateau in their own abilities. You can go a long way on natural talent, but gritty dancers work harder, see faster improvements in their skills, and actually enjoy what they do. So, if you have big goals, you’ll want to develop your grit.

Again, there are two key elements: passion and perseverance. Being a gritty dancer means you have a healthy passion for dance,  and you have a level of persistence that others struggle to match.

Part One of Being a Gritty Dancer: Passion – 2:51

So let's start with passion. Passion has a formal definition, and even if you felt it, this is what it means. It's that strong inclination toward an activity that you like or that you find important and investing time and energy. Pretty simple, right? It's something you care about that you put a lot of effort into. So does that sound like you and how you feel about dance? Is dance an activity that you like, you find important, and you invest a lot of time and energy into? Then you're a passionate dancer.  

Psychologists who study passion have also found that, on average, passionate people spend about eight hours a week for at least six years working on the thing they're passionate about. So I bet, by that definition, you are a passionate dancer. Most of us are all in and we have been for a while. And dance is challenging, so in order to keep working at it, to keep fighting for growth, it helps to be passionate about it.

Here's the problem. Not all passion is the same. There are actually two kinds. There is what's called harmonious passion (or healthy passion), and there's obsessive passion (not so good). And it's important to understand yourself and know if you have the good kind of passion, that harmonious passion, or if you're becoming obsessed with dance in an unhealthy way.

The short of it is that harmonious passion means you dance for the joy of dance. You feel that being a dancer is part of your identity. You believe, “I am a dancer,” but it's not such a big part of your identity that it takes over all of who you are. You freely choose to work at it and experience joy and happiness when you dance.

The flipside is obsessive passion, which is when you feel like dance controls your life. It's the only thing you're good at or the only thing that makes you special. Being obsessed takes over all aspects of your life. Your passion for dance comes at the expense of everything else in your life: your relationships, your school, anything else that is going on for you.

So, dancers, it's important to consider your own relationship with dance. I encourage you to pause and ask yourself these three statements. See if they're true for you. So I'm just going to say a statement. I want you to decide if this is true for you or not.

  • Dance allows me to live memorable experiences.
  • Dance reflects qualities I like about myself.
  • Dance is in harmony with other activities in my life.

If those are true for you, or mostly true, that's an indication that you experience harmonious passion as a dancer (the healthy kind).

Now, let's look at the flipside, and again, pause and ask yourself if these three statements are true for you. Be honest.

  • I can't live without dance.
  • I have difficulty imagining my life without dance.
  • My mood depends on my ability to be able to dance.

Now, if you feel like those statements are true, or mostly true, that's starting to edge into obsessive passion. In my experience working with dancers, a lot of us have both. We love it. We love the memories. We love dancing, but we don't participate in much else, and it's hard to imagine life without it.

Lean Into Harmonious Passion – 6:04

So, if you want to develop more grit and you want to have a long career here, we want to lean into harmonious passion and make sure we have a positive relationship with dance. There's no one else (not your teacher, your parents, your best friends) who can make you be passionate about dance or change how you feel directly. They can encourage a healthy passion, but it's up to you, the dancer, to decide your feelings and how much being a dancer is important to you.

Now, I know, usually, our schedules are insane. Many dancers are in the studio or gym for hours and hours a week. And one important way to develop a healthy passion is to focus on slow and steady pace with intense effort and healthy breaks rather than going too hard, too fast until your body crashes and you burn out. We want a more steady, maintainable consistent pace.

So it's about discovering a balance within your identity, within your sense of self, not just a balance of your time. You want to learn about other areas of your life. How else can you spend your time if you're not dancing? And, learning about yourself outside of dance, what else brings you joy? Being obsessed leads to dance overpowering other areas of your life, which means you're much more likely to burn out and quit before you reach your goals.

Of course, you will naturally experience ups and downs in your effort, but the most productive pace for improvement is a constant pace that you can sustain. Focus on that stable hard work, not peaks and valleys. Training consistently throughout the year, including cross training, gives you that space to keep it fun and find your harmonious passion for dance. Keep that obsessive passion at bay.

So when you're trying to lean into this harmonious passion and find a balance in your life by maintaining an identity outside, dance can still be hugely important in your life. I'm not telling you to lessen it. It's been a big part of my life for decades. So if that's true that it's hugely important to you, that's great. I'm just saying dance can't be everything. Thinking about your identity and your passion for dance is only in your control as a dancer. No one else can do that for you.

Okay, so passion is the first half of grit. You want to maintain that healthy, harmonious passion for dance. The second half of being a gritty dancer is persistence.

Part Two of Being a Gritty Dancer: Persistence – 8:25

If you want to achieve more, strive for bigger things, push yourself, you want to develop the skill of being persistent. You want to be the dancer that doesn't quit when it's hard, the dancer who takes feedback as a compliment and continues to work on it.

You can develop the skill for persistence by learning how to give consistent effort towards a long-term goal, because dance is the long game. You may spend years in ballet before you're allowed to go en pointe. You might spend years training for a professional audition before you get your first “yes.” Being a good dancer takes time. It's hard. You have to be willing to persist through the hard. It's the hard work and persistent effort that leads to actual skill improvement and better performance. Simple repetition isn't going to be enough. It's being thoughtful, intentional, and consistent in your effort.

So, if your goal is to be a better dancer, you want to show your talents to the judges, and you have a career in mind, you have to actively develop your skill. Say, you want to have a solo that gets first overall, you want to make the competitive team at your university, if you have big goals, it doesn't just happen because you've been dancing for a while. Achievement comes from that relatively simple combination of your skills and your effort.

But where do skills come from? Skills, like a beautiful turn section, pointed toes, a gorgeous leap, are developed through the combination of your talent and a lot of effort. The more effort you give, the more your talent grows. Let's be real, not every dancer is willing to put in a high level of effort.

So, sure, some level of raw talent is part of the achievement equation, but it's a small part. What matters is persistent effort. What I'm getting at is that someone twice as talented who doesn't put forth the effort will never be as successful as someone half as talented who puts forth consistent effort and is willing to persist.

Enjoy the Effort – 10:24

Now, as a dancer, being consistent and showing up with full effort every day is hard. I'm not telling you to be perfect. That's not the goal. The goal is to enjoy the effort, feel pride when you've given your all in class, reward yourself for your own efforts, regardless of what your teacher saw or what your parents say. You can acknowledge and reward your own effort so that you're able to sustain it for a longer time.

Again, this is all about developing grit. Passionate dancers tend to be successful, but not just because they care, but because they also put in the effort. It's not an accident that passionate dancers succeed. Remember, grit is that combination. It's both harmonious passion and consistent effort. It's a lot easier to give consistent effort if you're working towards a goal you care about. So, again, making sure this is your dream and your passion, rather than a goal someone else has for you.

Bottom line: if you love dance and you want to improve, how do you become a gritty dancer? You take on small challenges with a positive attitude. Challenges are good. Don't quit. Notice your own growth and achievement for yourself. Failures and mistakes are good if you're learning from them. Be proud of a failed attempt at a new skill or when you go for a combo during class that felt too hard. That's okay, you went for it. Get out of your comfort zone, go full out, learn from that attempt, and try again. That's how you develop grit.

Be proud of effort and growth, even if the outside trophies and rankings don't come out the way you wanted. We can't control a judge's opinion, but achievement and success come from consistent effort. Know you can control that.

So, if you want to be a successful dancer, consider this: science has shown us that those who persist in a goal they are passionate about end up on top. As a dancer, you can reflect on your own passion and work for that harmonious joy, and you can learn the value of persistence. And I hope you do because we need more gritty, hardworking, passionate dancers out there.

So, if you're one of them, I hope you keep developing grit and stick with it, and if you have another passionate dancer in your life, I hope you share this with them. It's a lot easier to go on the journey of developing grit when you have your friends on your side.

Thank you for listening and keep sharing your passion for dance with the world!


[Motivational Outro Music]

Thank you for listening to Passion for Dance! You can find all episode resources at www.chelseapierotti.com/podcast, and be sure to follow me on Instagram for more high-performance tips at @dr.chelsea.pierotti. This podcast is for passionate dance teachers and coaches who are ready to change the dance industry by creating happier, more successful dancers. I'm Dr. Chelsea and keep sharing your passion for dance with the world.

[Motivational Outro Music]

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