No matter what, we all experience failure at some point in our lives. So, when your dancers fail, whether it’s as small as stumbling over new choreography or as big as getting cut from an audition or just falling shy of first place at a competition, you need to teach them not only to dance but to deal with those inevitable failures in the right way.
Discourage Bad Self-Talk
One thing people tend to do when they mess up is to talk down to themselves. It doesn’t matter if they are joking calling themselves a name or actually dressing themselves down for making a mistake. Discourage bad self-talk no matter the situation or circumstance. You and your dancers should acknowledge their failures, but you should not use them to determine the dancer’s worth. That will only make it harder for them to try again and succeed.
Failing teaches us something valuable. It doesn’t teach us what we can’t do. It teaches us what we can’t do yet. The distinction is important. If we look at the moments when we fail as see them as a marker for future improvement, we can strive for bigger and better things. So, teach your dancers to use moments where they don’t quite meet their own expectations to set goals.
If they mess us the choreography, say, “Ok, let’s keep working. We can have this set with another hour or two of practice.” If a dancer gets second place in a competition, say, “Let’s make it our goal to get first next year.”
No matter what you do, you should always frame failure as a learning experience. If we don’t fail, it can be easy to feel a little too perfect and stop trying to get better. Help your dancers get a clear view of the situation, one that is not just angry, disheartened, or frustrated. Use that clear view to learn four lessons: what they failed at, why it happened, where they can improve, and how that improvement will take place.