“Most people think that working twice as hard as everyone else will make them great, but if you work 3X as hard, you will surpass them all.” -Ashlyn Randolph (hehe, that’s me). Hello everyone! I’m a little late getting this second post in my Dance Chat series up, but life has been pretty crazy lately. If you didn’t get a chance to read Part 1 of this 2-part post, I highly recommend reading that first. It will really give you an insight as to what I’m referring to in this post and how I got started in the dance world at a later age than most. My last post was all about how to start dancing, even if you tell yourself the excuses that you’re “too old” too inexperienced, too afraid…all of these things do not matter. Anyone can dance, it’s just a matter of having the courage to get started. Now, in this post I want to talk to you guys about how to make up for lost time. This info will be catered more towards those of you who want to make dance a career in the future or are really serious about the competition aspect of dance.

 It has taken over 5 years of trial/error to get to a place where I finally feel like I am propelling forward in my dance career. I have made so many mistakes, but I have learned SO much throughout this journey. I had no one to really look to for guidance, and that’s why I’m so passionate about helping you guys learn these things BEFORE you have to learn them the hard way and feel like you’ve wasted time in the wrong places or doing the wrong things. I’m currently in Charlotte, training at Metropolitan Ballroom with an amazing coach, and improving every single day so that I can reach my goal of being a professional dancer. I still have a long way to go, but I’m definitely on the right track.

So the first thing that I recommend doing is declare what you want out of dance. Do you want to teach? Perform? Specialize in Latin? Ballroom? Theatre Arts? Dance on Broadway? Whatever your goals may be, make sure you know them. Write them down somewhere visible (my next project is to make a vision board) and constantly keep that goal in your mind. So for example, my goal is to be a professional Latin dancer that teaches, performs, and travels the world spreading the love of dance with others. I obviously have more specific ideas of what I want to do, but I don’t think that we should necessarily share our deep aspirations with everyone, so I am keeping them to myself (for now). But you need some type of direction. This will help make the following steps easier.

The second step is to find a studio/environment that will help you reach this goal. When I first started dancing, I didn’t necessarily know how to do this. I started dancing at a studio that was close to home, eventually moved to Utah, and now I’m in Charlotte. Sometimes you have to try out different studios/teachers in order to find a match for you. I think that finding the right studio and coach is KEY to being a successful dancer. Since moving to Charlotte, I can tell this HUGGEEE difference in my dancing and just my overall energy. Depending on what you want to do, this type of environment could be different. For me, I want to be a professional Latin dancer, and I now know the studio space is where I need to be.

 I did start later than many dancers, therefore I feel like I really thrive in that one-on-one coaching right now. This is why I went back to competing Pro-Am (professional/amateur) instead of finding an amateur partner in Utah or remaining on the dance team. For me, I feel like working with a professional coach really helps me improve quicker. When I was in Utah, I was having so much fun on the formation team and I loved dancing with all of my friends, but I feel like I wasn’t getting that one-on-one technical training that I needed in order to really improve. So you just have to find the studio/training space that works best for you. The environment and teachers that you are around will have a massive effect on your progress.

I have been in situations where my dance environment was negative, and my dance coach was negative, which led to a negative impact on my dancing.  In order to thrive, you need to be in a positive space where dance is celebrated. The people there should really embody everything dance should represent, and make you want to be better. You also need a coach (or partner, if you choose that route) that really pushes you to be better but also believes that you can achieve great things if you really want to. If you decide to compete pro-am, your coach should be incredibly knowledgeable about dance technique, performance, partnership, discipline, and encouragement. If any of these things are lacking, you won’t get the tools you need to succeed. They have to believe in you as much as you believe in yourself, and really know how to get you to your goal. Really choose your dance environment and coaches carefully, and if you don’t mesh with a studio or coach, NO WORRIES! Just keeping looking until you find the place right for you.

The third piece of advice I have is to commit. Commit to your goal, to the studio, to your partner, and to yourself. If you want a career out of dance, or want to pursue a professional path, you won’t be able to do it any less that FULL ON. A lot of times during my journey I have found myself not fully committed, whether that was from a lack of motivation (this can be caused by your environment like I mentioned before) excuses about how I’m not good enough, or letting other shiny things get in the way of what you want. I personally have a lot of interests like yoga, my blog, hanging out with friends, exploring new places, cooking, going to new restaurants….I just love it all. Especially because dance is something you really need to put your time and money into, I highly suggest prioritizing these things. I’m not saying just sit at home every night and practice 24 hours a day, but I think being mindful of how you spend your time, energy, and money will help you a lot in the long run. This is something I’m still working on and learning to adapt to. I’ve listened to so many podcasts and read books by these amazing people who have really committed to a goal, stuck it out, worked incredibly hard, and then ultimately achieved things that they never imagined could be possible. Why? Because they committed. They didn’t let others bring them down. They didn’t bring themselves down. They just saw what they want and what they were capable of, and went for it.

So the process is: waking up every morning and thinking of that goal you have (or seeing it written on a sticky note, vision board, journal, etc), you are in an environment around supportive coaches and fellow dancers who want you to succeed and will push you to reach your goal, and you stay committed to whatever goal you have for yourself in the dance world. By following this layout, anything that we desire can happen. I am living proof of this right now. I have been working so hard lately and really focusing on my dreams. I have been declaring it out loud to so many people and to God, praying for something to happen or someone to come along and really believe in my dreams. A few weeks ago I  sponsored for the Millenium Dancesport Competition, which is one of the biggest competitions of the year. SEE GUYS! Things can happen if we just keeping pushing forward. This is my motto lately because it’s really hard sometimes and it can feel like we’re just pushing through a brick wall. But if we keep at it, good things will start happening.

I have faith in you and your dreams. Dance is something that should be shared with everyone! There are so many avenues that one can take into the dance world. Just find what works for you and then GO FOR IT! When you see people like Derek and Julianne Hough, Riccardo and Yulia, Michael and Joanna perform, you can instantly see that their passion for dance just radiates out of them. It’s PART of who they are. Let the music and movement fill your soul and body. The title of this post is Making Up for “Lost” Time, and what I mean by this is that it can be frustrating if you start dancing later than most people, but that does not matter if we just spend time on the things that matter and have a clear direction of what we want to do and the steps it takes to get there. The things I mention in this post are incredibly simple, but once we have these things established, we can spend time on other aspects like technical training, performance, competing…..all of the things that will help us become the dancer we want to be.  Don’t “Lose” or waste any more time. Get up and dance!

                “The big lesson in life, baby, is to never be scared of anyone or anything.” -Frank Sinatra

Ashlyn Tori <3

-This post was sponsored by Soffe Active