Definitions of Success


I’ve been thinking about the idea of ‘success’ lately in relation to dance. What it means to be successful, to find greatness and what that means for different people. This past weekend I went to Rock that Swing Festival in Munich and competing brought to light some familiar feelings and insights around competing that I thought I’d share. These are definitely coloured by my experience as a figure skater, solo dancer, jack and jill participant, partnered swing dancer, opera singer and burlesque performer. They are by no means groundbreaking, but might be helpful to someone else especially as people start preparing for London Swing Festival in May.

1. Define success before the competition. Why are you doing it? For the love of performing? For the thrill? To challenge your personal dancing? To place? Decide what success is before and then whatever the outcome take a moment to celebrate afterwards. You’ve worked hard.
2. Be kind to yourself. Unless it’s a showcase of some kind, you don’t get to pick the music, sometimes you don’t pick your partner or even the texture of the floor. The moment you walk on the dancefloor you’re winning – so don’t let other s#$% affect your state. Go back to what you defined as success. Sometimes it’s winning, sometimes it’s just sharing what you love with other people. If things go wrong, let them go. It’s just dancing! (I personally struggle with this, but you really do have to do it.)
3. Only wear things you’ve danced in before. This is something that I see far more in burlesque then lindy hop, but it still applies. Practice or social dance in the things you want to compete in. You’d marvel at how many things go flying or rip or tear when you haven’t tested them out. Wear that necklace or dress and make sure it’s not going to be more memorable then your performance.
4. Consistency is key. Practice your routine. Film yourself, watch the video and look for things to celebrate AND things to improve. Let yourself get comfortable with particular movements, tempos etc. It’s the easiest way to alleviate stress.
5. Look up. Maybe smile. Whether it’s burlesque, swing dance, cabaret – whatever – it’s about connection. Look up and connect with the people in the audience. Invite them in, make them a part of your success. They want you to do well and are on your side, let them give you energy. You’re in this together! That’s part of what makes dancing, performing and competing fun. If you lose this part it lacks the joy and life it deserves – that you deserve.

Delicious Ambiguity


I was all prepared to write a diatribe about the an article in the Guardian about not-for-profits posting chief executive salaries to raise public opinion and how it perpetuates a “not-for-profit means for-loss” mentality, but now I’m sort of sidetracked. Read the article. Let me know what you think.

I just feel like not-for-profits already post this information in their charity returns. If you draw more media attention to it the super crazy people who hide in anonymous internet caves will come out and have a field day with their crazy ‘tax payer’ rants. I pay taxes too! Just because I chose to work for a charity doesn’t mean I chose to be poor. Talent, vigor and work ethic deserve to be remunerated properly in ALL INDUSTRIES. Nuff said.

I guess the thing I really wanted to talk about is the concept of ‘uncertainty.’ In two weeks I turn 28.

In three months I’ll finish my masters. I have no idea where I’m going to live. I don’t have a job. I have debt. There are moments where I am ok with this ambiguity. There are other moments where I feel like it’s going to crush me. It feels a bit like I’m being tossed about in a wind storm, but I mean – that’s what I signed on for! There is no greater time to be blown about. The trick is to let the wind carry me rather than try to walk against it or resist it. I like being in control, the mistress of my destiny…but right now that’s not really an option. I can only take care of myself and quietly appreciate these moments and express my gratitude to those that have made this year so special and unusual.

I definitely feel like I’m building up to something new and exciting…I don’t know what it is yet. I’ll definitely let you know when I know. For now, a little Gilda Radner quote: “I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”

How are you all making out?