Gina & Susanne connecting this week over events in their lives as artists. Creating space with the intention to shine a light on dark corners with the hope to support you. Come join us with no judgment. We are holding space to learn, laugh, and downright pointe at ourselves.
Watch the episode here:
Rise 360 with Gina & Susanne |Having the power to make your own choices
Having the power to make your own choices
The topic of today is having the power to make your own choices. It could your choice on how to feel, your own choice on how to show up, or your choice on your career. We’re going to share one quote and moving forward we will be sharing a quote that either is supporting the topic that we’re talking about or just something that is going on in our lives and we want to pass on.
“Sometimes the weight you need to lose isn’t in your body”
When we’re looking at this quote, sometimes getting somewhere, acquiring something doesn’t mean learning a new skill set. It means to lose something that we are holding onto that isn’t actually ours, and we need time and awareness and discovering what that really is in order to release it and let it go.
Sometimes there’s things we’re carrying with us that we don’t realize we’re carrying until we feel we’re hunched over and we’re carrying all this weight that’s holding us down and keeping us back. And it’s only through awareness of it that it’s there to begin with, that we can start to unpack the things that are keeping us from really moving forward. Those extra things we’re carrying are like a tether that’s keeping you in place or a tether that’s keeping you in your past or a tether that’s holding you to an old belief system. When we can first be aware of them and then start to remove that extra stuff we’re carrying, then we’re like a hot air balloon that’s no longer tethered to the ground and we can rise to what our true capabilities are.
So the next time you feel stuck or feel like you’re not where you want to be, it’s not because you need to acquire more things; it’s because what you need to let go of is somewhere else than where you are looking. It might be.
It’s good to acknowledge that a lot of the dance world is top-down information. Your teacher is the wise one, you are the student, which is true. But there’s a lot of top-down communication and we get to the point as dancers where we just say, okay. And we just do and do and take on what we’re asked to do. And at some point along the way, we stop listening to ourselves and what is important to us. And as you’re an artist, that keeps growing until we kind of shut it down because we’re doing what we’re asked to do by our choreographers and our teachers. So it’s empowering to remember as dancers that we do have freedom. We do have the choice to decide how we want to show up to the class, how we want to show up to the rehearsal.
Then another analogy that comes to mind about how we have choices as a dancer, how we want to show up in the studio. It’s like, “What am I wearing when I show up to class?” Metaphorically speaking, what are we clothing ourselves with when we show up? It’s not our default mode to show up as confident or resilient or curious. Those things need to be choices that we make, the choices that we cultivate, and that we make when we come to the studio to arrive with those clothes on, so to speak.
Usually, the expectation from the teachers when you step into the studio is that you are motivated, you are there to learn, you are on and you are at like 120%. How you get there does not matter, and there is no grace, no room for understanding that we are human beings, that not every day are we at our highest potential. It is just not possible.
But we have the choice to either give in to, “Oh, I feel like a failure today and everything that I do doesn’t work out.” We can give into that narrative that is going on, that is the default in our brain, and then with that showing up like that in a studio hunched over and not really wanting to be there because it’s going to be even harder today, and you have perhaps forgotten your why as well, or you make the choice to look at the thoughts that are going through your head as something, “Hey, thank you so much for showing up, but I know who you are. I know what you’re trying to do, and I am no longer willing to lean into these thoughts. And here I am choosing what I want to think, choosing how I want to see myself, and choosing how I want to feel.” Now, is that easy work or absolutely not? If you think what you do in a studio as hard, do this. Do this every day. Do it four times a day. That’s hard. It’s hard in a different way because there is so much resistance in ourselves, particularly in the beginning, because we don’t know yet what it looks like over here as the endgame.
We don’t have anybody selling it to us. We have to sell it to ourselves. We have to keep ourselves responsible and accountable for it. And it is worth everything because it’s going to change your life. It’s going to change how you show up as a dancer on a daily basis. And it will change the days where you have no energy, where your muscles are super tired, where you don’t think you can take another step. Understand that your mindset is the biggest superpower that you will ever possess more than your long legs or your beautiful feet.
When you are given freedom, freedom to choose, freedom to show up, it’s also implying that you have responsibility. You have a responsibility to make the choices, to set yourself up to show up in the way that you want to. Freedom implies responsibility. And as dancers, it’s so important to learn what works for you. Not everybody’s a morning person, but you also don’t have to have 45 minutes. Even a 5-minute, very intentional set your mindset, what you’re going to carry with you through the day can be so powerful. That’s also good that dancers share the all-or-nothing mentality. We just say, “Okay, I’ve got five minutes. My class is about to start. How do I want to walk through the door? What do I want to be clothed with when I go through the door and take the responsibility to get in that direction?”
It starts with understanding the power behind having that choice. I know how much easier it is to put everything that you think you need to be in somebody else’s hand. It takes away responsibility. It takes away decisions you may have to make. But when we have the choice to do and how we want to feel, it brings responsibility and it brings possibility, so many more possibilities than relying on somebody else, because then you’re taking responsibility for your own life. You start creating your own world, how you want to be, how you want to show up, what your career is going to look like. What roles do you want to dance? You stop believing that somebody else gets to tell you who you have to be. That’s where the real magic lies.
We’re in this belief that it’s easier to rely on others to make choices for us where it is prison. I have to say, I believe that that was the only way I can sustain myself as a dancer, really, because that’s all we’ve been taught. This is what has been modeled my entire career, my entire time in the studio and in school, eight years. You just do how you’re told to and here’s how you have to show up.
Thankfully, the winds are changing. There’s a groundswell now to take into consideration the whole dancer. We’re starting to see a smattering of more freedom there for dancers. I think dancers being their own advocates in the studio is a very powerful thing.
Freedom is a responsibility and you’re so much more powerful once you take that responsibility. Dancers are hard working. We work hard. We’re not afraid of hard work well. So what’s keeping us from doing the work of showing up intentionally and with empowerment and deciding? It’s just being aware of the fact that we do have the choice. This conversation is such a powerful start to helping dancers to shift their mindset to be empowered to choose.
In the dancing industry, there’s a certain amount of rigidness required to become a dancer. However, we’ve taken it to the other side and to too much of the scale and we’ve forgotten why people actually start dancing. When we disconnect with us why we are dancing, we disconnect with the joy of it. Then it does become rigid, and then we’re following a set of rules that somebody else has stamped out for us. The opposite of that is being aware of the freedom to choose and the responsibility to take the measures to get us in the place where we show up in the studio in the way that we want to be there. There’s a lot of freedom and beauty when we are aware of it.
Tips to gain more awareness of where you’re at
Awareness is the first step. Without being aware, you don’t know what you don’t know.
Remember why you dance, to begin with, and tapping into that joy helps you to show up as the artist that you are becoming rather than in fear. Am I getting the attention that I want you from the teacher? Am I giving them what they want? It waits a minute. Is this who I am as an artist? Am I bringing all of that with me today?
Give yourself the grace and the permission to tap into different networks. Yes, you want to be a professional dancer. You want to be whatever your idol is. It is not only being found in a studio. It’s also being found in books, it’s found in podcasts, it’s found in blogs in journals, and IG lives wherever, but it’s not the consuming or the consumption. It’s about quality and who you’re choosing to be around quite honestly. Your circle of influence can help you actually to gain some more awareness. When you look at the five closest people that you’re surrounding yourself with, they are actually a mirror of you where you are at. That would be a good way to start to look at them from a 30,000-foot approach, non-emotional, no judgment, none whatsoever, but when you look at them, where are they at, what are you judging about them, what do you like, what do you not like exactly where you’re at? For a dancer, that might be who your five closest friends in the studio are. Are they complaining about the choreography or did they roll their eyes at this certain teacher? Or, you know, and do you want to be a reflection of that negativity. Is that who you want to be? Is that who you want to be perceived? Is that how you want to show up as you, as a professional dancer, as a human being? That’s where it starts. That’s where you can gain some more awareness on actually who you are. Or you could also ask them. If you don’t know who you are or how you come across, you can ask the five closest people. It’s a very, very hard exercise to do, and it is so rewarding.
It takes time
It’s important to point out that nothing happens overnight with a switch. It’s gaining more awareness, more awareness, more awareness, and then the change happens over time. We can do action steps, but for these types of changes to really sink in, I think giving ourselves the grace to grow with time and be patient with the process of the awareness and the responsibility and the empowerment is a seed that’s planted, and it’s going to take time to sprout and really take off. It takes persistence and consistency and a lot of love.
Okay, we’re sending you so much love. Thank you for being here. Thank you for always listening and till next time.
So much ❤ Susanne
Important Links to Gina McFadden:
I’m so glad you are here. With all that I have, my goal is to serve YOU – to inspire YOU to better health and wellness in an accessible, actionable way. My passion is to empower dancers like you in their pursuit of better health and peak performance. My work as a dance educator has focused around giving dancers the knowledge and tools to care for their bodies and minds.
Dance has been a part of my life since I was nine. I trained at ballet studios as well as competition studios – my heart knows and loves both worlds! (Did you know you were reading the bio of Teen Miss Dance of Michigan 1994?!) I went on to dance professionally The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Ballet Pacifica, State Street Ballet and The National Choreographers Initiative.
My students include ballet “bun heads,” competition dancers, concert and commercial dancers…I’ve even taught 3-year-olds (which, as it turns out, is a lot like herding kittens). Most recently, I have been on the faculties of Boston Ballet School, New Jersey School of Ballet, Grand Rapids Ballet School and an adjunct professor at Grand Valley State University and Hope College.
Want to sample some of my writing? I have a blog here and am a blog contributor at The Muse by Apolla. Want to take one of my virtual classes? I teach Apolla Insta Live Series twice a month!
My degrees in business and legal studies tell the tale of a young lady who once thought she wanted to be a lawyer…but this beautiful art form kept calling me back…
Wanting to learn more about anatomy and mind-body connection, I completed my RYT yoga teacher training in 2016. Oftentimes my students will end up in down dog in the middle of a ballet barre because…down dog. I am a Holistic Life, Career & Executive Coach and work with clients (dancers and non) around the globe.
I am married to a handsome Marine (oorah!) and mamma of two lovely daughters, ages 9 and 12. My other joys in life include cooking from scratch, working out, spending time with my family, hosting big dinner parties and reading.
Honored that you are here, Dancer! Please reach out to me via email if you would like to connect!