by Rhee Gold
“You’re an artistic genius! How do you come up with an idea like that?” “Motivated to be different” is the motto of the teacher who choreographed the piece that everyone is raving about. She’s the one who doesn’t want to be like anyone else or follow the current trends in choreography. Tricks like grabbing a leg and yanking it behind the head (often, unfortunately, with a turned-in supporting leg) are nowhere to be found in her art. The even bigger feats like fouetté turns or multiple jumps are not in her choreographic vocabulary. Yet she continues to awe audiences, judges, and even the choreographers who pepper their dance numbers with tricks.
So how does she do it? It’s this teacher’s personal rule not to use music she has heard before or a concept that she has seen onstage. Throughout the creative process she often stops herself because her mind flashes a “too typical” sign; her reaction is to go to a new artistic place. She just can’t stop herself.
This dance teacher is the same one who invents new curriculum ideas to continually attract fresh faces to her classrooms. Her goal is to constantly place herself in the category of “unique” in the pool of dance schools in her area. She knows that being different is her way of staying on top, and her enrollment numbers reflect her philosophy.
Each time she creates a new program concept, the majority of dance schools in her area follow suit by imitating her offerings. Yet those concepts usually don’t work for the other schools because they don’t have the same philosophy, personality, or clientele that this creative dance teacher does. Simply put, the competition thinks that they can re-create someone else’s success by doing what they do. But it doesn’t work that way. Instead, they need to think creatively and establish programs that are unique to the characteristics of their school. That’s how to become a leader rather than a follower.
The simple message here is to do what you do best and forget about what anyone else is up to. But keep your eyes, ears, and mind open to what you see around you—take all that sensory and mental input and craft from it something distinctive. The world is your inspiration, and the diversity of that world is what we bring to you with this issue. Our focus on dance of various cultures is proof positive that there is more than one way to see the miraculous accomplishments that make up human life—and many ways to interpret them.
I believe that each of us follows a life path that is a personal journey, with the route embedded in our instinct. Having the ability to tap into that instinct can be the difference between success and failure. Know that you are a unique individual with something special to offer this world, both in dance and in life.