Our guest post today comes from Kansas City Ballet Company Apprentice, Eric Mazzie. Eric, originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, just completed his first season at KCB. He has agreed to share the knowledge he has gained during his first experience immersed in the professional dance world, hoping to provide advice to younger dancers aspiring to dance with a professional company.
Learning is a process that never ends; no matter how “high up” you climb on the latter in the dance world. Reflecting on my apprenticeship this past year, I have learned some important things about how to behave professionally in a company. Before coming to Kansas City Ballet, I had never experienced company life firsthand so I had no clue what I was actually doing!
First, I learned that sitting on the floor is not a good idea if you are trying to show you care. This comes across as indifferent especially when others are standing up and working hard! Likewise, being on your phone during rehearsals can come across as indolent as well (no matter if you are watching dance videos on YouTube or looking at your twitter feed to see if your best friend has any new tweets). As a rule of thumb, it is best to just stand and watch what is going on in the moment, nurture yourself with Yoga, or Pilates, or both watching and stretching at the same time! (Just make sure to stay attuned to anything that pertains to the roles you are learning, especially the ones you are understudying).
Most importantly, over the past year I learned that intrinsic motivation is the true key to healthy development as an artist. This type of motivation refers to an individual’s inner desire to do his or her personal best – not in hopes of receiving praise from fellow dancers or instructors – but instead in order to grow and develop as an artist. For instance, when the instructor gives the ok to just mark the steps (to just do arm movements), instead of marking, one can take advantage of the opportunity to work on technical and emotional aspects of the piece. That means doing the steps as full out as possible for internal reasons rather than because you want others to view you as being more “dedicated” or “disciplined”. In general, this type of intrinsic motivation is important because so often, dancers are conditioned to scan the room for external approval and when they do not receive it, they are easily discouraged.
All in all, I learned some crucial things to thriving in a professional company. Hopefully this can help other dancers who are just starting to do the best they can do for the sole reason of bettering themselves! I am looking forward to applying all that I have learned this past year to next year, and throughout my career. To everyone reading this, have a great summer! 🙂
Sincerely, Eric Mazzie