On Mentorship, Part 2

Before making a commitment, the first question to ask yourself is: do I need a mentor? The second question is, why? 

Bad reasons to get a mentor

  • I want to dance exactly like ______
  • I want someone to pay attention to me
  • I want a recipe for success that I can follow
Good reasons to get a mentor:

  • I have ideas but lack the know-how to edit/develop them properly
  • I need a resource for dealing with professional pitfalls I’m inexperienced with
  • I know I want a career in dance, but need to work on my package

What’s the theme here? If you said it’s that the mentee is doing at least 50% of the work, here’s a gold star! (or at least thats what I thought the emjoi would be …)  You need to put in the time. I have watched many students book mentors as thought the act of paying symbolized effort. It doesnt. Effort symbolizes effort. If you dont put in the hours, you are wasting your money and the mentors time.

Many coaches will take the students money anyway. But the truth is teachers want to teach; and it is demoralizing/draining to give one’s lifes work away to somebody who is just faffing around and really only wants supervised playtime. In a group class its not so bad. In a one-to-one relationship it takes a toll. If you want your teacher to take you seriously, you must demonstrate that you work seriously. You can do that by fully engaging with your material during sessions, by asking good questions, and by working on it independently outside of class hours.

To get the most out of a mentor relationship, you need to have some idea of your goals, and you have to be willing to be uncomfortable. There are a lot of things you won’t feel like doing.  A good mentor will push you into doing them anyway, while also having empathy for your discomfort.

For example: one thing a good mentor will do is push you to get your look together (and  I’m overlapping “mentor” with “coach”… “Moach?”) Getting your look together doesn’t mean  turning you into a Barbie doll; but whatever your look is, it needs to be intentional. If your look is crusty punk, then grow out your armpit hair and be your best crustypunk. If your look is impassive glamazon, then dip yourself in a vat of Swarovskis and glam your heart out. But your mentor/coach should be helping you execute that vision in a way that echoes authentically across everything you touch: your staging, your costumes, your dance combinations, everything. It sounds terribly millennial I know, but yes — I am talking about branding.

A good mentorship will help you develop to the point that you can start figuring out what your branding will be. A bad mentorship will end with you as a poor copy pf someone else. We’ve all seen it. As a competition judge I beg you, please, don’t be that dancer. It can be challenging at times to find your own style, but you’ll get there — Just dust yourself off, pick yourself up, and start all over again!