To the New Dancer: A Letter of Advice From A Prima

By on February 17, 2017

 

There’s nothing wrong with being nervous unless the nerves get the best of you. I realize how much time and energy I wasted as a young dancer by letting my nerves get the best of me in classes, rehearsals, meetings, auditions or performances. I finally learned how to calm myself down by embracing my nervousness to make it work for my benefit. Knowing what I know now after years of professional experience as a dancer in the ballet and on Broadway, I would love to go back and give advice to my younger self. If I could give myself a pep talk, I think I would tell myself something like this…

Dear Younger Me,

Be confident in yourself and do your best to be the best performing artist you can be – not someone’s idea of the best version of you. There is no one else that can be you which is what makes you interesting and unique. Let your talent be the reason you stand out – not the color of your leotard.

Happiness and success looks differently on everyone, so don’t compare yourself to others. Search for happiness internally because you will not find it externally. Be a dry sponge who absorbs information like water and figure out what works best for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and to learn from people you admire.

Be nice to everyone! It is a small world and you never know who you will run into in the future. Make friends with everyone and remain professional and polite. Stay humble yet confident in yourself. You have to respect yourself in order for others to respect you.

Keep dreaming big and setting new goals for yourself everyday. There will be a time when you will feel like you’re not getting better, but don’t forget how far you have come. You are constantly growing and changing so never doubt yourself or your abilities. Celebrate your wins and learn from your losses. When a door closes another one opens…and it’s usually the right door.

Always stay present and focused. Forget the last step and don’t worry about the next step (literally and figuratively!). Just do one step at a time and make each step a new beginning. Work smart, work hard and don’t forget to have fun!

I understand now that anything is possible when you make nerves work to your benefit! Turning that nervousness into positive fuel will help you to reach your dreams and achieve anything you set your mind too.

About Shannon Marie Rugani

After dancing with the San Francisco Ballet for eleven years, Shannon Marie Rugani is currently making her Broadway debut as an original ensemble member in An American In Paris and is the understudy for Lise Dassin. Shannon is a native California girl hailing from South Lake Tahoe, California and has been in love with ballet since she was six years old.

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