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My Journey of Self-Advocacy in Dance: Lessons from Behind the Curtain

In my years immersed in the world of dance, I've faced countless challenges, moments of uncertainty, and self-doubt. Like many in the arts, I've wrestled with my worth, pondered over my capabilities, and questioned if I genuinely belonged on the stage.

I remember a distinct phase when I was eager for promotion within my dance company. The memories of previous disappointments and the shadows of self-doubt held me back. But then I realised, if I didn't ask for what I felt I deserved, who would? Taking that leap was both frightening and liberating.

One incident that's etched in my memory is when I was thrust into the spotlight, chosen to perform as Albrecht in "Giselle" due to a series of unforeseen injuries. With a mere nine days to prepare for a role I was unfamiliar with, it felt like diving headfirst into the deep end. Those days were a blur – a mix of adrenaline, practice, and a burning desire to rise to the occasion.

However, a lesson I learned the hard way is that the dance world doesn't always operate on predictable lines. Even when you save the day, rewards aren't instantaneous. I had my moments of frustration, especially when stepping in for injured colleagues didn't lead to the recognition I hoped for. But with patience and continued dedication, I finally achieved my promotion to a soloist.

One thought often circled my mind during this period: would things have been different if I'd advocated for myself earlier? It's a tough realisation, but often we dancers remain silent, bearing our challenges and hoping our efforts will be recognised. But I've learned that it's crucial to voice one's ambitions and desires. It's essential to ask questions, seek feedback, and understand where you stand in the grand scheme of things.

Sometimes, you might find that the environment you're in isn't the best fit for your aspirations. It's okay to seek other avenues where your dreams might be more achievable. Being adaptable and open to new possibilities is key.

Looking back, I've realised that understanding my 'why' has been my guiding force. Regardless of the field you're in, knowing your purpose and seeking aligned opportunities can be transformative. And when challenges arise, as they often do, remember that growth often lurks in unexpected corners.

I hope this resonates with fellow dancers and anyone else on a journey of self-discovery and advocacy.

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