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Ep 53 Life Lessons in Dance with Sarah Reis

The Acrobatic Arts Podcast • 02/01/2023

In this Episode, Sarah Reis, MEd talks to dancers about some of the emotional challenges they might face while dancing and how to work through them. Sarah reminds us all that dancing is not just about moving your body, it's also about being creative and telling stories with your movements. Just like how we work on being more flexible and strong, we also need to work on our emotional growth as dancers, allowing us to truly become the best dancers we can be! 

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Show Notes

Emotional and Life Development Skills Beyond Dance
Sarah Reis, MEd

We know that dance is a physical activity so it’s not surprising we have to constantly work on developing physical domains like flexibility and strength. We also have to work on our artistic development; use of breath, conveying emotion, storytelling. We talk about these things throughout our dance journey but we rarely discuss the emotional development needed to support us as we work on our physical and artistic development. This blog in collaboration with its corresponding podcast identifies some of the emotional development challenges we can work towards on our dance journey. Working on these things will help us become the best version of ourselves.

1. Learn to Set Goals and Develop Reflection Skills: It has been proven, if you write your goals down you are more likely to achieve them. Make sure they are measurable and attainable and break them down into smaller chunks so the process isn’t too overwhelming. Learn to reflect and check in on your goals.

2. Develop Time Management Skills and Organizational Strategies: Dance keeps you busy, in order to succeed you will need to manage your time wisely and get yourself organized.

3. Embrace Leadership Opportunities: There are leadership opportunities everywhere in dance; motivating your team, helping out with younger dancers, organizing events. There is a lot to learn when you put yourself into leadership positions, do it often and aim to do the best you can.

4. Learn to Win with Grace and Loose with Grace: Talk to the adults in your life about the value you place on winning and your philosophy behind it. Understand that your philosophy is uniquely yours and you may not agree with other members of your family or on your team. There can be big emotions that come along with winning/losing for some people. Check in with yourself on where you are at emotionally. Check in with your mentors if you need direction navigating big emotions. Motivational speakers always say that your biggest growth comes on the other side of your comfort zone. If you are being emotionally challenged in your losses, use that to push you forward in your training.

5. Work to Understand What We Feel and Monitor Feelings: We often know that we are feeling something but sometimes can’t exactly pin point what it is. Learn to take inventory of your emotional experiences and it will help you understand the scope of your emotions better. When we understand what we are feeling we can better target ways to manage these emotions. A bonus is that as we begin to understand more emotional depth our ability to share emotion on stage can open up.

6. Celebrate in Others Success: When we are genuinely happy for others we open our spirit to receive success in return because we rise together. You have probably already seen this happen in your dance classes. Ever notice how nobody had their side aerial and then boom! Everyone got it the same week? Isn’t it interesting how that happens? We see each other, we celebrate each other, we are inspired and we rise together. It is okay to be feeling emotions such as jealousy… acknowledge it, feel it and work through it. As you are able to celebrate the success of others you will notice that you may even feel healthier. Our emotions affect our gut health.

7. Respect Opportunities to Dance: Respect those that support you and your dance journey by providing the opportunity for you to dance. It is a privilege. Respect your fellow competitors by clapping for everyone, your teachers by thanking them for their time. Respect choreographers by working hard to develop their vision. Respect venues by cleaning up after yourself and others. Create a culture of respect for the discipline of your craft and you will be rewarded.

8. Curate a Positive Attitude: Positivity is infectious. So is negativity. Stop the negative body image self-talk. Kill the gossip. Squish the drama. Open your heart to positivity and be the light.

9. Learn from Everyone: You can learn from everyone. Everyone has something to teach you even if the only thing you learn is patience. Learn from the beginner who asks questions. Learn from the master who has already made the mistakes. Learn from the vibrant star who gets things easily, learn from the quiet dancer who works harder than anybody in the room. Everyone has a unique perspective, learn from everyone. Listen to all of the corrections particularly those that aren’t directed towards you.

10. Apologize When Necessary and Take Ownership of Your Mistakes: We are human, we make mistakes. Learn to own your mistakes like the human that you are. Own them, apologize for them and work to be better. Apologizing, and meaning it, helps us heal from the weight of things going on in our life.

11. Learn to Take Compliments and Learn How to Give Genuine Honest Compliments (and Give Them Often): Stop deflecting and down playing the compliments you get. People are giving them to you because they believe them - so should you. Make eye contact, say thank you and internalize that compliment because you are amazing and you deserve it.

12. Learn to Embrace the Difficult Loss as an Opportunity for Growth: This tie into learning to lose with grace mentioned previously. Things won’t always be easy but nothing that is truly monumental in our life comes easy. If it was easy everyone would be doing it and if it is easy it’s unlikely to be memorable.

13. Develop Resiliency of the Mind: Develop your physical resiliency, your emotional resiliency and your artistic resiliency. You will be tested on this journey so you will need it.

As we take on the journey of life developing a strong emotional connection to ourselves will help us understand who we are and build emotional intelligence. It will be lifelong work, but we are always a work in progress.

About Sarah Reis

In her early development Sarah split her time between gymnastics and dance then later got into circus work and competitive rock climbing. The combination of these skills led her to a performance career as a stunt double in the thriving Vancouver film scene. While enjoying a professional performance career she worked on various projects including cruiseship contracts, print, television, film and nightlife productions. Sarah has always felt it was important to continue her education and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology in 2006. After graduation Sarah started work as an artistic sport rehabilitation specialist in a Physiotherapy clinic during the day while teaching dance in the evening. At the clinic Sarah primarily designed return to training programs for injured artistic athletes.

Sarah is a certified teacher in acrobatics through the Canadian Dance Teachers Association (CDTA) and is a level three coach in women’s artistic gymnastics with the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP). Sarah holds longstanding certificates with many established dance teacher, Pilates and fitness related organizations. Sarah eventually returned to school to study contemporary dance at Simon Fraser University and completed a second degree in Education. Sarah spent some time working in the school district, holding an official teaching license with the BC ministry of Education in the specialty of performing arts and physical education. In 2008 she completed her Master’s degree in Human Performance Coaching Sciences from the University of Victoria where she researched in the field of athletic motor development and later developed the curriculum for the International Dance Teaching Standards teacher education program for developing dance educators.  Sarah began her doctorate research in Leadership Education but has since switched her focus to Dance Medicine. Within her research Sarah is interested in AcroDance teaching methodology and recently presented at the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science.

When not touring as a public speaker, Sarah is the director of a large dance competition and manages a physiotherapy clinic among other small businesses. Sarah has spent the last decade touring worldwide presenting at various universities, dance conventions and conferences and can also be seen live from Los Angeles with CLI Studios. With a strong creative pull Sarah has been choreographing AcroDance lines and productions for more than twenty years and continues to be passionate about student development when she is home and able to teach in her hometown. Module three certified, Sarah is an examiner and course conductor here at Acrobatic Arts. 



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