The Importance of Mentors in the Performing Arts

mentorYou can’t make it in this world alone, and the more mentors, supporters, and trustworthy people by your side the more success will follow. In every stage of my life I have had people to look up to and strive to be like. When your kid, those people are your parents (who will always be you biggest cheerleaders and mentors), but as you get older, develop interests, those role models become people in your field.

In undergraduate school I had so many teachers that I could look to in the dance world for guidance, but there was one professor that stood out, Bill Evans. He wasn’t only an internationally known choreographer, dancer, and teacher, but he was someone who truly believed in his students, worked with them on their weakness, pushed them to be better whether it was technique or rep classes or even performances. He taught his students to dig deeper, be more then what people saw on stage, and to never put bounders on yourself. He believed that I could make it in the dance world and was there to support me when I decided I wanted to go to graduate school.

Another mentor I had was the person who gave me my first real job after college, Natalie Rogers-Cropper. You may recall me talking about her in my post ‘My First Job at a Dance Company.’ Natalie was the best mentor a recent dancer graduate could have since she was a graduate of Juilliard, dance professionally all over the world, and was/ is the Assistant Rehearsal Director and the Director of Garth Fagan Dance School. When she hired me she took a strong interest in my life and job goals. At the time, I wanted to start my own dance company so she helped provide me with the tools to connect me closer with the Company by working with the development and marketing departments, as well as allowed me to take classes at the school for free during the year and during the intensive summer program. She helped me strive at the company, pushed me to new levels, and when I was ready to move to my next level by going to graduate school she supported that as well by providing recommendations.

Being out of the dance world for the last few years (besides teaching ballet) showed me that I still need to be apart of it in someway. Now that my dreams have grown, and my interests have led me towards artist relations and tour organization and management, I have spent the last three years understanding how working with multiple types of artists at various career levels, as well as with various programming departments.  It is important to have a team that can be trustworthy and have your back. So, how do you find these people and know they are the right fit for you? I think it is about intuition. When I went to college, I did research and looked at the instructors. When I applied for an internship at Garth Fagan Dance I had my own reasons and goals for applying.  In both cases getting accepted into college and getting hired as an employee the organization had their reason for taking me on as a challenge.  Knowing where you stand with people and where they stand with you is important with any kind of relationship if there is going to be trust.  With that trust, a bond is form, and those kind of people become the most important people in your life because they help to pave a path for you to succeed.

Interested in finding out more about Natalie Rogers-Cropper or Bill Evans?  Click on the name links!


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