Steven McRae in David Dawson's The Human Seasons. Photo by Bill Cooper, courtesy ROH.

6 Pros' Advice for Attacking the New Year

Need a little oomph as you step back into the studio post-holiday? Let these six dancers provide you a dose of inspiration to start the year off on the right foot.


Never stop pushing yourself.

During a recent class, dance legend Debbie Allen shared some major wisdom—and tough love—with her students. The lesson: Dancers don't become successful by standing on the sidelines, but by taking initiative. "I learned everybody's part, honey, and I tried to make sure I did it better than them," she says in this clip. "I'm not trying to make you be vicious. I'm trying to make you be sharp." She continues, "Don't be compromised by anybody in the front of this room that tells you you can't. I'm telling you that you can."

Reframe challenges as opportunities.

"Each challenge is an opportunity to evolve," writes The Royal Ballet's Steven McRae, who tackled singing for the Cats movie in 2019. Now, he's moved on to a more difficult challenge: recovering from an Achilles injury. In another post, he explains how "11 weeks ago I simply couldn't imagine walking again," though he's back at it already. What "impossible" task might you accomplish this year?

Aim for your goals.

At Houston Ballet, the ever-clever Chun Wai Chan relied on a bow-and-arrow prop from the company's production of Sylvia to share some wisdom in pun form: "Aiming for what we want in 2020." It might be cheesy, but it's solid advice.

Don't let past insecurities limit your future potential. 

Chloe Freytag, who danced with Miami City Ballet and now Dimensions Dance Theatre Miami, reflected on Instagram about how she's grown as an artist over the years. "Mid decade I quit dancing because I was told my body wasn't the right shape for ballet, particularly the way my legs looked in pink tights," she writes. "Ended the decade performing Sugar Plum...rocking my pink tights and feeling entirely beautiful and confident." Her takeaway? "I'm bigger than those limiting self beliefs that haunted the past decade."

Find a support system.

Leave it to Dance Theatre of Harlem's Ingrid Silva to provide inspiration and cuteness simultaneously. Being a dancer is a tough career, so having a support system—yes, your dog counts, too—is essential.

Make the best of any situation. 

"Bring it on" might as well be choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's motto. She encourages dancers to "embrace what life offers you and give back with total generosity and commitment." 2020's here. Are you committed?

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