Advice to Dancers from 2016

The World Dances was fortunate to speak with myriad inspiring artists in 2016. We asked stars, rising stars, and role models from all walks of the dance world about their advice for aspiring dancers who might like to follow in their footsteps. Here is a roundup of some of our favorite responses to help kick off 2017 with passion and intention! 


Marcelo Gomes

Principal Dancer, American Ballet Theatre


"Well, first off, excellent training at a good school is very important before becoming a professional dancer. I attended the HARID Conservatory and the Paris Opera Ballet School; both gave me something very different in terms of ballet technique. I had wonderful teachers that guided me through those years, which is of course instrumental for a young dancer in whatever school they choose. Also, as serious as this profession is, with all the dedication and passion it demands, a young dancer should never forget to keep a great sense of humor. Otherwise, just dance with all your heart and soul."


Charlotta Öfverholm

Artistic Director, Compagnie Jus de la Vie

"I always say, even to very professional people if they listen to me, you really have to find yourself, even if you don’t want to choreograph.  The only person that you really have is yourself. You have to learn what, who you are. It is what is most important in everything."


James Fayette

Managing Director, L.A. Dance Project 

"I think we’re now in a new season in the dance field. We’ve done ballet to the top level it can be done. Everyone can do 32 fouettés, double tours. We’ve reached an amazing technical level, to the extent the technique is actually becoming a little bit boring. We need to get back in touch with artistry and diversity, how we present our art. That’s something that’s very significant. At LADP, we’re not trying to do 32 fouettés; we’re trying to communicate dance in new ways to make it a richer experience for the audience. We also have a really diverse repertory. So to be a really rich artist for a really rich company like this, your spectrum of dance has to be broader. Obviously take your ballet class every day, but definitely take a look at the other art forms. Embrace them and learn about their history. Be the person in the room who, when the choreographer wants to do something new, you can step out there and not just do a good dance step, but an interesting dance step. I think diversity informs that."


Rebecca King and Michael Breeden 

Corps de ballet, Miami City Ballet

"I can’t say this enough: hard work is the most important thing. It’s the only thing you have that you’re in control of. You can’t control your body’s limitations. Maybe your foot doesn’t have a crazy arch or you’re not naturally gifted with long legs. You can’t control if someone has a bias against you. But you can control how hard you work and how much improvement you make because of that work ethic. When you get something because you’ve worked hard for it, that’s so much more rewarding than if something is handed to you on a silver platter because you happen to look like Sylvie Guillem. The benefits of hard work are everywhere."


Dana Nikolay

Professor of Dance, Sam Houston State University

"You’ve got to believe in yourself and at the same time cut yourself no slack. You don’t have time to think that you’re already good enough. You need to keep making progress towards a standard, and that standard has to be one of your own making. It’s key that this not come from anyone else. If you’re trying to please your teacher or choreographer, you’re insecure and uncertain all the time. You have to cultivate your own vision and pursue it with total dedication through the pain, through the frustration, all the time."