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Abi Stafford on anxiety, losing performance opportunities


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Abi Stafford wrote an essay for Dance Magazine to give some insight into her anxiety disorder—as well her thoughts on how companies could help dancers deal the the stresses of the job. Her concrete solutions feel a bit like a brainstorm draft ("Artistic management could send out anonymous surveys to assess what areas need improvement. Companies could hold talk-back sessions with dancers to open up the lines of communication about what's working and what's not."), but still, I found this to be a quick, interesting read for someone wondering how losing a performance opportunity might feel for an NYCB principal. 

 

 

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@Syzygy Thank you os much for sharing this.  What a wonderfully honest essay she has written.  Hopefully her openness will inspire others to talk more about this prevalent issue.  Just this morning I was listening to an older podcast episode of The Wonderful Dance and Ballet Podcast about this very topic.  The episode is from 9/22/2019.  Definitely worth a listen.

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A very heartfelt essay. One thing that has happened in this quarantine time is that while companies aren't performing, there's been a lot of change. From the BLM movement that challenged leadership to take diversity and talented Black dancers seriously, to talk about what it means to be in dancing shape and now also mental health. I hope companies step up to provide support in this area. 

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1 hour ago, Dale said:

From the BLM movement that challenged leadership to take diversity and talented Black dancers seriously, to talk about what it means to be in dancing shape and now also mental health. I hope companies step up to provide support in this area. 

Beautifully said. 

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The key points for me -

"There needs to be more mental health support within dance companies. Psychological services should be made available to all dancers and artistic staff—including ballet masters."

"Overall, everyone needs to listen more."

Yep.

Athletics and the performing arts are very much cultures of the ready and willing. When people say, "the show must go on!" it is a call for participants to step up, and if one happens to be a person that has any sort of difficulty showing up and performing at a professional level (whether physically, emotionally or psychologically), then one is going to struggle. And require assistance (and so one becomes "a handful"). Anyone who can just be there when needed, and make it all happen on cue is going to have a decided advantage. If nothing else, the dancer gets to be called a company workhorse. Being reliable goes a long ways in such industries. An oil painter can get away with unreliability to a much greater extent than a stage performer since the work process happens mostly out of the public eye and doesn't depend upon set schedules to the same degree. So anything that can be done to enhance a dancer's confidence and enthusiasm for the job is going to improve their reliability - and that should benefit the entire company.

Edited by pherank
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