Tips to help you motivate
Finding it hard to motivate? Here are some ideas to maintain your mojo.
Dancers are usually extremely good at self-motivation. However, with lockdowns dragging on for weeks and without the usual stimulus of class and colleagues and performances, even the most self-disciplined among us can struggle with their enthusiasm and drive.
As counsellor Philippa Ziegenhardt says, dancers have high expectations of themselves, and when you combine that with low motivation, it can be very frustrating.
So how do you keep up your mojo? The key, advises Philippa, is to make goals for yourself that are “do-able” in the present circumstances.
“It’s a matter of adjusting your goals – finding something you can work on right now,” she says. “It doesn't really matter what the goal is – it will be different for everyone – just as long as it is something you can focus on and keep you interested.”
For some the goal might be as little as sorting out your cupboards today. Or it might be more ambitious, like starting a project that will last several weeks. “You could work on something technical, or find something to research, or watch past old World Ballet Day videos, it doesn't really matter,” she says.
Dance is very creative, she says, so what else can you do that will satisfy as a creative outlet? “It could be music, it could be art, it could be writing poetry, making a TikTok, any number of things,” Philippa suggests. It could be making up your own dances or learning a dance you see on Youtube, for instance.
Dance is also about achievement. What else can you do to satisfy that sense of achievement? “Could you learn a language of a country you’d like to dance in – something that’s connected to your bigger picture goal?” Philippa asks. “Or could you take up an on-line course or give more time to that distance education you may have already started?”
Making things or growing things are both creative activities and fulfil that sense of achievement, whether it be in the garden, the kitchen or the shed.
Dance is also a very physical outlet, so what else can you do to stay physically satisfied? Although most dancers are still doing their daily workout to stay in condition, “I think of lot of dancers keep going through the motions, doing their barre in the living room,” Philippa says. Try doing something else, she suggests – body conditioning or Pilates or yoga, to add a bit of variety to your routine. “I find a lot of boys are missing doing their tricks in the classroom, so I say try tricks on your bikes or skate board, do something daring with your bodies.” Try new styles, new moves, anything so that you are tired at the end of the day and feel you have worked your body in some way.
Dance is also mentally, emotionally and intellectually enriching. How can you keep up that connection with your mind and feelings? One way could be to use this time at home to deepen your understanding of your artform. Dance has a long, deep and fascinating history. Researching it can lead you in many directions and expand your mind. Try reading about the characters and stars - somebody with an interesting life story. Pick a favourite choreographer or composer and watch or listen to at least five of their creations. Read their biographies. Or choose a theatre designer and write down what you like about them. Admire their genius and innovation.
If doing any task at all simply feels like too much of an effort, tell yourself you only have to do it for a short time. Walk for just 10 minutes, or read just one chapter of a book. Listen to just one new piece of strange music, or walk just one block. Before you know it, you might just find yourself occupied for longer than you expected.
Try viewing lockdown as a chance to explore. Even though you are physically indoors, you might yourself in new and interesting foreign territory, and that in turn might enrich your artistry, or be a new interest, hobby or potential new branch to your career.
Philippa Ziegenhardt is a former professional dancer and is now a counsellor for dancers and performing artists. https://stageminded.com
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