let's face it: criticism, whether from oneself or someone else, is pervasive in the world of ballet.
You stare at the mirror and see what you aren't doing right. Your teacher gives out corrections during all of class. Ballet technique requires you to perfect less than perfect movement.
What if all those voices of outward and inward criticism become debilitating?
In case you've experienced this: we've written out a few tips to help you deal with criticism and even turn it into a #weapon rather than a #foe.
#1 CELEBRATE YOUR VICTORIES
You might nail that single, double, or triple pirouette one day, and no one might see you. Or, your teacher may very well see it and give you a correction rather than a compliment. Your arms may not have been correct or your timing may have been off. Don't disregard the correction but do celebrate what you did WELL. Your small victories are worth celebrating because they are the stepping stones of your progress. So be proud of yourself!
THIS will cause you to feed on positive feedback, which encourages you, and makes you want to continue to strive for improvement. Celebrate when you correct a movement or successfully make a permanent adjustment you've been asked to make. Applying corrections takes time, and changing our daily classroom habits can be tedious. But when you succeed, TAKE NOTE of it. Remark on how much work it took to get you to this place and give yourself a pat on the back.
#2 TURN CORRECTION INTO YOUR SECRET WEAPON
You can't get better without feedback. That's just the bottom line. You need consistent, regular feedback from supportive sources. Do not confuse a harsh correction as shaming or discouraging. Sometimes teachers can feel insensitive in their delivery, but this doesn't mean they don't have your best in mind. Some instructors are particularly hard on their students because they want them to succeed. Either way, you can choose to view it through your own lens.
Choosing to see each and every correction as a stepping stone to better technique, better performance, and beautiful movements will truly help you be thankful and apply it. Remember, teachers are not there to pester you--they are there to help you evolve. Feedback and correction will get you to WHERE it is that you want to go--so take it and treat it as gold. Apply it, rather than stuffing it away.
Lastly, keeping a positive, thankful attitude will prevent you from getting bogged down in the steady stream of corrections every student receives. I once heard a ballerina say "ballet has made me grateful for the journey, the process of learning and hardwork, rather than the end result."
#3 CONSIDER THE SOURCE
Who is the source of the criticism? Is it a well-informed, instructor? Is it a critic with no value? Is it a peer? Or is it your ever so harsh critic...yourself?
When receiving feedback it's important to consider the person giving it. What are their motives and are they trying to help you? Do their good motives offset the harsh delivery perhaps? And if it's yourself, do you need to change the way you "talk" to yourself? If it's an instrutor, are they motivated by knowledge, or bias? It helps to become objective sometimes and look at who is giving the feedback from an outsider's perspective, where you can think more analytically about its value. This will also help you sort through criticism and learn which ones to value, and prioritize, as well as which ones to forget :).
#4 TURN THAT SELF CRITICAL VOICE INTO A CHEERLEADER
And lastly, it really will help you in general (in life!) to turn that self-critical voice that many people hear daily...into a loving, compassionate cheerleader. Dancers, in my opinion, can be some of the most self-critical people. We are often perfectionists, hard working and focused individuals. With this can come lots of self-judgment and feelings of not being "good enough." All of which only slows you down. So if you are feeling discouraged, bogged down in self-critcism, or simply not good enough, chances are you need a warm, compassionate inner voice who SEES your strengths and calls out your potential.
It may take time to change the voice inside you, but it is so worth the process. Get tactile with it: write a list of what you're good at. If you don't know, ask others who know you and love you. Start to meditate on what you like about yourself and what you have that no other dancers has. Embrace your individual strengths and unique stage assets, because these are the colors of your own, individual expression.
I hope you found some meaningful nuggets in this post. Have an incredible week filled with fall colors and pumpkin flavored goodies :)