Friday, June 1, 2012

Best friend quitting dance?

DanceSpirit posted a great article quite a while ago titled 911: My best friend quit!, about how to deal with losing a "dance bud," as they phrase it. No, it's nothing dramatic, like they quit because their boyfriend tells them to or because they're grievously injured. It's a natural progression - many people who start dancing young do it as a fun activity or because their parents put them in class, and then when they finally start to think for themselves and get into harder levels where time, work, pain, and dedication start to come into play, they decide that dance isn't worth it to them. For many people, this is a good decision.

I suppose I've never really felt this loss - I started dance on my own and rarely made close friends in my dance classes ("dance friends" vs. "best friends"). Recently though, I came home from college and found that I missed the dance community back in school. It was supportive, inspiring, and was the one dance-related place I did make a close friend. Being apart from her is a little tough.

But how do you feel about dance? How would you deal with losing a best dance friend?
  1. Step 1: Determine your values. Ask yourself what you're in dance for. Are you in class because it's a social environment? Because there's parental or peer pressure? Because you enjoy it? Because you see it as a career path? If you're in it for one of the first two reasons, perhaps you should consider dropping dance, or at least spending less time in it and searching for other options that may be of more interest to you.
  2. Step 2: Change/hone your focus. If you've made it past Step 1, I assume you dance because you enjoy/like/love it. Make sure that your main focus in the studio is on yourself and your dancing. Of course you need to watch and communicate with other dancers in order to learn and grow, but if you find yourself talking about that horrible math test tomorrow or the cute guy in your history class, bring yourself back down to Earth and focus on your dancing.
  3. Step 3: Don't compete. Dance shouldn't be about getting your leg a half inch higher than the best dancer in the class. You are your own competition. If you feel lost, uninspired, or unmotivated to perform without a certain friend (or rival) in class, you need to reevaluate why you're in dance and start to focus more on yourself.
  4. Step 4: Don't take it personally. It's very unlikely that you were a contributing factor to their decision to quit. If anything, being friends with you made it harder for them to quit (and if they quit because of you, you don't want to be friends with them anyway). Also, don't feel like you can't be friends with them if they don't love dance as much as you do. That's totally untrue, even if you started dance together and became friends that way. Do your best to understand that your passions may be different, support them in whatever they choose, and hope they support you too!
  5. Step 5: Socialize outside the studio. Like the situation described in the article, losing a friend in dance is not easy at first, but it can actually strengthen your relationship if you make an effort to see your friend outside of dance. True friends will not be just "dance friends" who are your friends in the room and nothing more. If you care about your friend, let him/her know that you support their decision, but want to continue to be a part of their life.
  6. Step 6: Make friends everywhere! No matter where you go, it's a good idea to have a small circle of friends. At work, at school, in old schools/hometowns, at new and old studios. If you lose one, you've got some to fall back on so you'll never be completely alone.
If some of these steps seem hard for you, or you just feel irrationally (or rationally!) angry about a friend quitting, talk to a friend, teacher, counselor, parent, dog, etc. Changes in your daily routine can shake you up more than you can imagine, and you never realize how much you need something or someone until you lose it/him/her. Never feel like you're being stupid or weak for feeling a certain way.

Do you have any friend quitting dance stories? How did you deal?

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