When it comes to resilience, the dictionary defines it in two ways: 1) the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity. 2) the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.
At Tonawanda Dance Arts, we explain resilience as a combination of both definitions. We like to think of it as the ability of a dancer to bounce back after being faced with a challenge, experiencing an unexpected outcome, going through a difficult time, or being stretched past where they thought they could reach.
For our competition team dancers, developing resilience isn’t just a perk; it’s a necessity. Throughout dance practices and competition events, we know there will be times when their ability to be resilient will be tested. There is a choice in those times to either give up or grow, and we’re teaching our students how to choose growth! With that in mind, here are some of the ways we are developing resilience in the team:
Learning how to handle outcomes you didn’t think were fair: As a team, we discuss healthy ways for the dancers to express their disappointment when they don’t receive the award or recognition they wanted. An important part of this conversation is how they manage their expectations, remembering that our purpose for competing is not about the trophies; it’s about doing our best work.
Understanding the importance of your self-talk: We discuss how self-talk can build people up or tear them down. Our goal is to help the dancers recognize this influence and practice positive self-talk. A growth mindset comes from the self-talk that says every mistake or failure is an opportunity to learn.
Owning your behavior toward others: In moments of high emotion, it can be easy for dancers to lash out at friends (or other teams or judges) for problems that happened in practice or performance. As leaders, we are committed to teaching our students that placing blame doesn’t serve anyone well. It’s key for everyone to accept responsibility for their own actions and reactions.
Getting back in class or on stage with a clear mind: One of the hardest parts about developing resilience is letting go of past troubles. We’re striving to teach our students how to leave grudges behind and come into every rehearsal and performance with a fresh perspective and an open heart.
We want our students to know that you don’t become a resilient adult overnight; you must practice the behaviors that build resilience in order to reap the benefits. We’re proud of the way our competition team students are growing stronger in this way, and we appreciate all you do as parents to support these lessons at home. We are all in this together!