Rising 360 | Why you do not have to sacrifice your health and your well-being

Rising 360

September 15, 2021


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.

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Rise 360 with Gina & Susanne |Why you do not have to sacrifice your health and your well-being

Why you do not have to sacrifice your health and your well-being to be a dancer

Sacrificing your health and wellbeing to be a dancer is something that is heard in the atmosphere dance industry quite often. That mentality is common. It’s something that many of us grew up with.

It is very common for dancers to associate dance with pain. We sometimes assume that they go together. “I’m a dancer. That means I’m going to have to go through these physical and mental hardships because that’s what dancers do. Dance is hard, dance hurts. It’s what we do to make our art.” That’s the mentality upheld by dancers in the past and even today. “Of course I’m pushing through the pain. Of course, I’m dancing when I’m ill. Of course, I have an eating disorder. It just comes with the job.” Yeah. The truth is that is not the case. There is no either-or. There is only an end.  It is on us to figure out what that end is and what it looks like and how we can support making that end happening and making it a must in the teachings and in companies and something that is in the forefront of everybody’s mind. It is so easy to slip into this mentality of pain and suffering because that’s how we’re wired. It is our default setting and we have to build our awareness muscles so we’re not stepping out of the studio at 30 with 10 scheduled surgeries and a broken heart and soul. That’s not the point. You do not have to sacrifice who you are and what you want to be becoming after your career as a dancer to be one.

Refine the cultural norms of the industry

We have to redefine the cultural norms of our industry. It starts with a conversation. It starts with an open dialogue and rethinking what we’ve always thought without realizing that that’s a part of our psyche as dancers.

Quote for the day:  “Nothing is impossible. The word alone says  ‘I’m-possible’.”

We’re talking about redefining, rewriting the story around either or and making it into an end, we have to start not asking ourselves the question, well, how are we going to do that? But first really truly realizing that (a) anything may be possible. The things that we thought 20 years ago weren’t possible are appearing because people ask different questions. If we imagine what it could look like and dream big. That’s the way we are going to see change. The how it will surface, and it will be much easier to be laid in because people already believe. We should work on the belief that first, you deserve to feel great while dancing.

We have to cut through the story that dancing is hard and it must hurt and that if you don’t hurt, you’re not a great dancer. Or you’re not working hard enough if you’re not hurting. If you look healthy, then you are fat. All of these stories that have been carried over from generation to generation, it’s questioning these. Are they true?

By way of an analogy, it’s like wearing a pair of glasses. It’s a lens through which you look at everything. So glasses can make things look big or small, or if they’re tinted, they can make everything rose-colored. So it’s about taking off the glasses that our industry has had on for 50, 60 years, and putting on new glasses with a fresh perspective that reframes what we think about when we think of dancer or health and dancer and wellness and what it means to work as a dancer. So before you step into a studio, put on your rose-colored glasses and ask yourself the question, what if it could be fun? What if you are not dreading walking into the studio? What if you wake up in the morning refreshed and rejuvenated and you can’t wait to get in the studio? What if you are your self-advocate, and you tell the teacher with no apologies that you can’t jump that day; that you are taking care of yourself; and there isn’t the sense of guilt or shame around being your own advocate in the studio.

This is from both sides: as a dancer taking your power back and taking things into your hand, and also knowing that if there is coming some sense of shame or guilt from the other side that it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them and the stories that they have been carrying forward. So you should be even more proud of yourself to stand up to these kinds of expectations and putting yourself first.

We think that self-care is selfish and we tend not to put ourselves first because we have never experienced what it means it feels like when our own needs are truly met. Think about the things professional dancers put themselves through and even the mind games to show up every day in the studio. It has nothing to do with self-love and self-respect. What we experience in the studio and what’s created outside of the studio, which is just the recreation of what we thought we needed in the studio, does not meet our needs as human beings. That’s where the gap is easily closed if we’re permitting ourselves to do so.

It is about changing the script and changing what’s going on in our minds and carrying not armor necessarily, but carrying a buffer between what your desires are and what the expectations are from the industry, from your ballet master, from the school director.

You have to put on self-love and worthiness and enoughness and all of your awareness and affirmation in everything that you want to achieve in your life. That starts to seep out in the way you show your artistry. If you’re coming from a place of self-worth and you’ve taken care of your holistic needs, you are so much more of a force as an artist and things flow. The audience and the artistic director can tell when you’re coming from a place of fear and lack. It’s not just our mental and physical health. It also affects our artistry and the way we show up as dancers.

Tips of self-care and putting yourself first

Remind yourself of your worth and how it is independent of other people’s perception of you in the studio that day. Like just a healthy separation between those two things because I think oftentimes dancers feel our worth reflected in the attention that we get from the teacher or the director or the ballet mistress. So establish some safe space in between your worthiness and what’s reflected on you by those in a position of power in the ballet world, dance world. This is a day journey—an hourly journey.

Make it a priority to journal in the morning. Don’t scroll on Instagram or Facebook and see what everybody else is doing first thing in the morning. Instead, take care of yourself and always check in hourly on what you need to do. Find out how you can improve your state and raise your vibration.

Anything worthwhile doesn’t happen right away. It’s something that we have to foster and something that we have to build, an awareness that we have to gain, and then there’s ground that we can gain after gaining the awareness. It’s worthwhile.

It’s a wrap

We’re rising 360. We’re helping you by discussing the tools that can help you to rise, that can help you to focus on your holistic health from a 360 perspective. We’re here to serve you. On that note, we invite your feedback and your comments and tell us what you want to hear about, what topics would help you because we’re here to serve you.

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:

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  • About Gina


    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!


REad More ⟶

  — Susanne shares a quick thought that came to her after hearing a quote. Who told you that you are not deserving of what you want? She remembers how this feeling showed up in her life and how other people’s limiting thoughts would so easily be accepted as hers. Watch the episode here: Listen to the podcast here:   Who told you that you are not deserving of what you want? And I’m back. […]

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Past Episodes 

There is a better way to pursue ballet at the professional level. Instead of dancers pushing beyond their body’s limits, there is a healthier way to train your body, your mind and your spirit to soar. To become the best at your craft, you must be healthy. The mentality of surviving to make a performance perfect is an old paradigm that needs to change. As athletes, dancers must thrive in order to shine and connect with their audience. This new approach, leads to fulfillment, strength and longevity. It allows you to give more of your heart and soul on stage, creating an unforgettable experience that moves your audience. And that’s the whole pointe.