Apolla supportive dance shoes

The Notion of Earning It

with Emily Bufferd

There is such beauty in the tangible results of hard work.  A clear indicator in a very unclear industry that what you are doing is doing something and a means of holding whatever that tangible result is/was as precious and inherently valuable is something that feels a little lost to me.

Our current state of instant gratification in many facets of our lives is such an interesting juxtaposition to what happens most often in dance. In our craft, in order to be ‘good’, one must train… years and years of training to simply be ‘good’, not even ‘great’.  And from there, even more years of training to go from ‘great’ to hopefully ‘exceptional’, and then, once a dancer is ‘exceptional’ and ready to be auditioning/working, we go right back to the bottom of that totem pole, but this time instead of with training, it is with job experience.  There is no shame in starting at the bottom of something, but there most certainly is pride in working hard to earn your place at the top.

There is value lost when a dancer/teacher/choreographer is given something too easily; the notion of having to work hard to earn it is something that teaches us to be tenacious and stay hungry.  That continuous hunger is what propels our industry forward… hunger in dancers wanting to be better, hunger in teachers wanting to understand more to help dancers be better, hunger in choreographers wanting to create more inspired/inspiring work - it is all palpable. When an artist is given something with ease, their drive (oftentimes) ceases to remain at its pre-whatever it is they wanted and got level. In some regards, it feels almost criminal (not really, but you know what I mean). To be handed something is not actually a gift; to be given the tools to earn it, however, that is sustainable.

It makes me think of one of the notions I share often (and likely to the point of annoyance) with my dance kids, which is the notion that ‘hard work works’ (#hardworkworks), and it does, and it eventually takes you to each place you are hoping to get to, in due time.

In closing thoughts on this though, please don’t misunderstand; I am not saying that someone who has worked hard for something should not get it. I AM saying that if someone has not worked hard to earn it, they should have to… earning things makes them taste better, so to speak, and inherently when something is valued it is treated with care and respect.  Our industry could use some more care and respect, let’s work hard and value it.

January 15, 2020 — Emily Bufferd

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