How To Cope If You're Being Bullied
Being bullied, unfortunately, is still a common experience among dance students, particularly male dance students. But there are a variety of strategies that you can use to help deal with difficult emotions and restore self-confidence.
1. Focus on your passion.
Whether it's dance or something else, we all have something that gets us fired up and makes us excited about life. "Focus on that as hard as you possibly can," says modern dancer Chris Bell. "It helps mute out everything around you."
2. Don't keep your struggles to yourself.
"Confide in somebody you trust," says New York City–based tap educator and performer Andrew Nemr, who admits that he often didn't tell his parents about being bullied because of the shame he felt. Most school systems have resources available to guide students through instances of bullying. "Build support mechanisms around you so that if something happens, there are people who will come to help," says Nemr.
Andrew Nemr giving a TED talk. Photo by Ryan Lash, courtesy Nemr.
3. Reverse the narrative.
Tap dancer Leo Lamontagne reminds dancers that the bully is the weaker person: "You can think, 'That's really sad on their part; poor them that they need to bully me.' "
4. Most importantly, don't stop dancing.
"The days that you don't want to do it are the days that you need it the most," says Alex Zarlengo, a principal dancer with contemporary ballet company CONNectic Dance in Hartford, Connecticut. "You're going to come out of a class with an endorphin rush, an emotional high and a sense of accomplishment."
Jennifer Kahn knew the theater industry could do better. As a professional stage manager for 17 years she worked on regional, off-Broadway and Broadway shows. Nearly each time a show closed, something unsettling happened: "I would watch them throw away our shows. All of the beautiful artwork by my friends in the paint shop would go in the trash." The elaborate backdrops? Gone.
But she had an idea: What if the material used in the backdrops and legs could be upcycled into something new? And what if theater lovers could literally keep a piece of a beloved show?
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.
For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.
"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "
She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.