It can be really hard to have a great attitude 100% of the time. Things are not always perfect in the dance world, and it’s easy to let difficult situations get the most of us. All I want at the end of the day is to dance and to get better at dancing, and I have to remind myself of that when situations are less than ideal, which in the professional dance world is pretty often–whether its a floor that’s not great or money and time constraints, conditions stray from ideal frequently.
|Photo by Angelica Escoto|
So much of being a professional dancer is about personal attitude. Regardless of situations and circumstances, it’s our job to dance our best and dance our hearts out. There will always be reasons one could have a negative or bad attitude–circumstances are rarely perfect, but really good dancers always have positive and patient attitudes, and they dance things full out and their best even if they feel under-rehearsed or overwhelmed.
I recently performed at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), and one of the pieces featured myself along with two of the male dancers in the company. I have yet to rehearse or do that piece in front of a mirror. I learned the choreography during the spring tour, getting to the theaters early and rehearsing with the other dancers. For BAM, it was assumed I mostly knew the piece, which was true. Although the version for Brooklyn was a bit longer, I picked up the extra parts pretty fast. So we never really drilled or cleaned the piece; we ran it in the theater space a handful of times, and that was it. When I was feeling a bit frustrated and like I couldn’t catch all the small details of arms and heads, I started to think, “This isn’t fair, why haven’t we done it with a mirror? I need to clean it! I don’t feel like I really know it because we haven’t really drilled it,”–I was being a bit whiny, though just to myself. Time constraints didn’t leave time for more rehearsal time, so instead of complaining and thinking how unfair it was, I changed my attitude; I decided I would catch all the details of heads and arms; that I would “just do it” and do it incredibly well, even if the circumstances weren’t ideal. And that change in mentality really worked. By the second time we ran it after my changed outlook, I caught almost all of the little details I’d been missing. And I decided to just believe and myself and really dance the piece–if I’d stuck with my initial attitude, I wouldn’t have been able to do that.
|Angel Muñoz, photo by Paula Lobo.|
I had the pleasure and privilege to share the stage with Ángel Muñoz at BAM, and his attitude towards dance and life is contagious and inspiring. I have never been around another artist who is so happy to be dancing. He takes so much joy and pleasure in what he does, and it comes through not only to fellow dancers and musicians, but to the audience. And as a director, his positive energy brings out the positive energy of those he is directing–he brings out the best in everyone and through his own actions reminds us why we do what we do. He believes in the people he works with, and that belief in them helps them to do their absolute best; his joy in the work breeds an overall environment of joy, allowing everyone to perform at their best. That’s not to say he isn’t demanding, but he knows how to demand the most without belittling or putting people down. I’ve learned a lot from him about attitude from observing him both as dancer and choreographer/director.