Breaking out of a plateau is an ongoing challenge for dancers, especially those who are established. It can be more so when you live and work in a community where you are already known and respected. Sometimes I catch myself thinking, why would I learn that? This is a self-limiting hurdle many have to get over on an ongoing basis. It’s not so much about ego and thinking highly of one’s self. It’s more about the energy required to push out of the soft and cozy comfort zone.
The best way for me to eliminate that seemingly elitist attitude is to remove myself from my community and be plunked in a different one with a grander population of people in my field. I remember the first time I travelled for dance training outside of my city. I was so intimidated, thinking that I would be a minnow in an ocean of talent. However, once I took my self-limiting thinking away, I noticed that the talent in each class fit that bell-shaped curve of talent I had noticed in my home town. 15% are outstanding, 15% are not, 70% are average. Because of the larger populous, there were more people in the outstanding category and thus were providing me with inspiration to better myself.
Traveling for dance is transformative and is one luxury of being part of a company or freelance dancer as you can be paid to travel to work on international projects or be able to stop off somewhere while on tour. Travel in combination with dance opens up so many doors forcing growth to the open-hearted person. One thing I love about dance is that it transcends cultural & verbal barriers. The exchange of information between bodies while dancing goes beyond the exchange of information through words. The benefits last a life time in your dancing and personal life because the adventures bend your reality.
Over the years, my experiences on and off the stage have shaped me. Yes, there have been classes, teachers, and colleagues who have contributed hugely to my style, technique, and ability and I am so grateful for their contributions to my life. I believe that much of my depth as a performer comes from traveling to experience different cultures and the misadventures that came with those travels. It allows for me to see new methods of expression through cultural mannerisms, folkloric dances, and even religious rituals that have been maintained through thousands of years. Also, seeing the roots of where my dancing came from, gets me back to the basics, allowing me to rebuild my style with an enriched history.