Ep 163 Transcript - Dr. Chelsea Pierotti

Ep 163 Transcript

Dr. Chelsea: Welcome to Passion for Dance. I'm your host, Dr. Chelsea, and my mission is to create happier, more successful dancers through positive mental skills. There's a big challenge that many of us face, however. We tend to train and dance within groups. Whether you're at a studio or a school team or an all-star gym, the culture of that group can make or break your ability to work on those positive mental skills. We have to start with culture.

Maybe you've been a part of some incredible cultures as a dancer. Maybe you've been part of some really bad ones. But either way, culture is the foundation that all other mental skills need to thrive. It's really challenging to teach resilience and confidence and motivation if the team culture is awful.

There are twelve ways that you can quickly destroy a culture, which is a lot to go into in one episode. So today I'm going to share three of those culture killers. If you want to be sure you're contributing to a positive culture or have the jumping-off point to talk to your dancers about your team's culture, you can get the full list of 12 culture killers in a free resource at www.chelseapierotti.com/culture. The link is in the show notes, wherever you're listening. And again, that's www.chelseapierotti.com/culture. Okay, let's get to the top three culture killers!


[Motivational Music]

Hi, I'm Dr. Chelsea, a former professional dancer and mental performance coach. I know what it feels like to be a passionate dance teacher who cares about your dancers, but you want to challenge them and help them be their best, and I also recognize that some traditions and teaching practices in the dance world are harmful. So I'm on a mission to change our dance industry by creating happier, more successful dancers using positive mental skills.

When you understand how to help your dancers with their confidence, how to find their own motivation, work together as a team and more, your dancers will unlock new levels of competitive success and happiness. And it's not just about them; you deserve the same. So we'll talk about how dance teachers can use positive mental skills to be more confident, resilient, and motivated as well.

Be sure to hit “subscribe” wherever you listen to podcasts. There are new episodes every Thursday, and each week you'll hear from me and my guests with advice and actionable tips for building mental toughness, covering topics about mindset, motivation, resilience, and building a community. Passion for Dance is a show designed to help dance educators like you have a positive impact on every dancer you teach.

[Motivational Music]


First Culture Killer: A Lazy Warmup – 2:36

The first culture killer I want to talk about is having a lazy warmup. There are all sorts of reasons why a lazy warmup is terrible for you physically, of course, and that's reason enough alone to have a thoughtful and focused warmup. However, the mental consequences of a lazy warmup are devastating too. Warmup is setting the tone for your expectations for that day.

As a dancer, if you are transitioning from school to dance class, or you're between rehearsals, your brain needs a minute to acclimate to your new surroundings and be ready to have a good rehearsal. Warmup is there to protect you from physical injury, to work on strength training, to make you a better dancer, but it also creates the energy in the room that will determine how the rest of that class goes. If everyone is sitting around in static stretches and chatting with each other or going at 50% during warmup to “conserve energy,” then you will have a practice full of distracted, sluggish dancers because that was the tone that you started with.

Warmup is a time for shifting focus, preparing your body for what's coming, priming your muscles and your brain to be ready for the work. So teach your dancers to take warmup seriously, mentally and physically, so that a lazy warmup isn't a culture killer.

Second Culture Killer: Complaining – 3:51

The second culture killer is complaining. Your team, your studio should be a no-complaining zone, that means in practice, on the walkout to your car, in the team text thread, during school. And here's the thing about complaining: if it's allowed, it permeates everything.

And consider why people are even complaining in the first place. They tend to complain when they feel like they don't have any control in a situation, or they complain because it's a habit. That's what I see the most in teenagers, especially. It's just a habit and a normalized part of culture. One person has a little bit of a complaint and they're hoping somebody agrees with them, and it's like complaining becomes this weird way that we bond.

So if your team creates a habit where every little request from coach or a peer is met with eye rolls or a huffy sigh or outright complaining, that negative culture will spread to everything else, and instead we want to create a culture where there is no complaining. And I want to be clear that that doesn't mean you can't give feedback, that the dancer shouldn't be able to bring up something negative to their coach. If something's upsetting you, feedback is good, but my rule, and you can use it if it fits you, is that if you have a complaint to bring, set up an outside time to talk about it with me and bring at least one solution.

So if you're upset about a costume, let's calmly talk about it at an appropriate time, and come with a solution with what you want to add to the costume to make it better. Or if you have a complaint about the practice schedule, let's talk about it at the right time, and come to me with a solution of how you would adjust things that will help us get everything done. You can't just complain. There has to be at least one solution.

Another note about complaining is that it starts at the top. Coaches shouldn't complain about other teams or judges or parents in front of your dancers. That teaches everyone that you handle frustration by whining about it. So we have to walk the walk here. And of course, healthy venting is a thing, and there's a time and a place for that. We need to be able to have that release with our close friends. But complaining is a culture killer when it's done with no solution, you're just looking for people to agree with you, and it's often behind someone else's back. So break the habit of complaining with your team and don't let that be another culture killer.

Third Culture Killer: Bad Body Language – 6:10

The third culture killer I want to talk about is bad body language. It's one thing that most dancers don't consider, but it's also the start of a lot of culture issues.

In my ballet training, I had a ballet master who insisted when we were watching and listening to the next barre combo, we had to stand in B plus, and that, at the time, made me a little crazy, but I understood that he was trying to help teach about body language, right? Crossing your arms? You were not allowed in class, and that's a little to an extreme, right? It was part of a pretty intense ballet culture at the time. But the point is that body language communicates things.

Our dancers may assume that the coach is upset because she's standing with her arms crossed and tight-lipped while watching the routine. That's what got me in trouble as a coach, right? I can speak for myself and say that my thinking face apparently looks really mad. I had dancers tell me that I looked super upset, so I had to be aware of my body language and how it was being interpreted. If I'm cleaning your routine, and I was thinking about how to make the choreography better, but my crossed arms and stern face communicated to the dancers that I thought what they just did was horrible, which usually wasn't true. I was just trying to make it better.

A lot of team drama can be traced back to bad body language and assumptions. Within the dancers, it's how they assume someone's ignoring them because they're just looking at a phone or they assume that that eye roll was about them, or they assume the little click on the side is laughing and it's about them, right? There's a lot of bad body language and assumptions behind drama.

So when you're in class, as the teacher, notice how you carry yourself, and then set expectations with your dancers that body language matters as well. It will take a while. Just highlight it, let people notice it, kind of get out of the habit of it. But bad body language is another culture killer.

So those three culture killers (a lazy warmup, complaining, and body language) are just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to take a look at all 12, you can get the list with my recommendations for turning it around in a free download at www.chelseapierotti.com/culture, or click the link in the show notes wherever you're listening.

Take control of your culture. You get to create the environment you want, and that starts with talking to your dancers about these culture killers and what you want instead. So let's create more positive, more supportive cultures in the industry and be the change we want to see. Take control of it. Thanks 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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