Feeling Stressed in the Studio? Talk to a Stranger!

April 29, 2014

As a dancer, remaining focused and dedicated to your career is arguably as important as having top-notch technique and artistry. But it’s also important to make sure your laser sharp focus doesn’t cause you to block out the rest of the world.

Recent research conducted by behavioral scientists in Chicago shows that when we’re too busy going about our day—for instance, rushing to catch the subway before rehearsal with our earbuds in and our tunes cranked up—we miss out on positive interactions with strangers. But when we smile at the person sitting next to us on the train or make small talk with the cashier at the convenience store, these moments serve as mood-boosters. Research participants who engaged in these situations reported feeling happier and more connected to others than those who remained in their personal bubbles.

So what’s it all got to do with dance? If you’re feeling stressed or agitated with the people you spend the most time with—like your fellow company members, choreographer or director—researchers also found that stepping away from the situation and having a brief exchange with a stranger can help cancel out your negative feelings. Next time you tense up in rehearsal, take a coffee break and ask the barista how her day is going. It’s a win-win since you’re likely to return to the marley in a better mood.