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artists who’ve come together to create something in the name of a common goal. What’s exciting is that each of us can make magic of our own too.

Before we continue our competition vs collaboration discus- sion, there is one very important principle to keep in mind, and that is, YOU ARE YOUR ONLY COMPETITION. Yes, there are others dancing alongside you who could potential- ly do the things you’d like to do, but when it all comes down to it, there is only you.

Here’s what I mean.

In life, no one can take what is meant for you. What’s yours is yours. You can’t take what’s meant for some else, and they can’t take what’s meant for you. That doesn’t mean that we won’t have to work for those opportunities. It means that each of us were destined specifically for certain things. In that light, unhealthy competition becomes point- less.

While we’re on the subject, unhealthy competition is just a symptom of a deeper issue. The issue isn’t them vs you. The real issue is fear vs truth. Yep, you read it correctly, my friend. Being obsessively competitive, unwilling to share resources, or unwilling to help others are all symptoms of fear. It’s fear that someone else will get what you want, fear that they’ll get ahead before you, fear that you’re not good enough…strike that…fear that you’re not enough.

However, you don’t overcome fear by working against other people. You overcome fear by embracing the truth, and the truth is you are enough. The truth is, there are opportunities that are meant for you and only you. The truth is that no one, except you, can stand in the way of you doing all that you were created to do. So, don’t let fear call the shots. Stand in the truth that your only competition is you.

Now that we understand why unhealthy competition isn’t fruitful, let’s discuss the benefits of collaboration.

For starters, collaboration is great because it has the poten- tial to enhance your work. There is strength in numbers, right? Let’s take a musical for instance. The story line alone is usually pretty interesting. The music alone is usually quite moving, and the choreography alone is generally fantastic too. But what happens when they’re all joined together? Take it a step further. When the script, music, and dance are married together and then coupled with lights and cos- tumes, the end result is magical.

I’m not suggesting to simply layer your work with addition- al elements. After all, the elements aren’t what makes the magic. The magic comes from the collaboration of talented

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When you look around and are tempted to see another dancer as competition, take a closer look. If you view that person as a competitor, then it’s likely that you see their tal- ent and really admire something about them. In that case, could you work with one another instead of against one another? You can even look outside of the dance communi- ty. Is there a musician, spoken word artist, or lighting designer with whom you could collaborate? In any case, I encourage you to grow into the idea of collaboration, and watch how your work grows with you.

So, we see that collaboration can be a great way to enhance your work, and secondly, it can also be a great way to enhance your network. Networking is essential to succeed in this profession, just as it is in most professions. While we can do a good amount of networking by taking class regu- larly, which includes attending conventions, taking on a col- laboration is also an awesome way to expand our network.

Networking is just a fancy way to describe the act of getting more people to know you and how awesomely talented you are. It’s relationship and audience building. When you col- laborate, you can develop both. You’re able to build a stronger relationship with another artist, and you’re also able to grow your audience by sharing your collaborative effort with your partner’s network. Not only that, but a great collaboration has rippling effects. It could lead to opportunities to work with other artists, and it could also lead to an incredible partnership with the same artist. The possibilities are endless when you open yourself up to col- laborating.

The take away from all of this is quite valuable. Being com- petitive is wonderful if it pushes you to be better than you were before, but remember, you can go further by working with others than you can by working against them. As you see, collaborating can have a profound impact on both your work and your network. Just couple your awesome with someone else’s, and together, you can create magic.

Shaté L. Edwards is a choreographer, dance professor, and author residing in Dallas, TX. She has a Master of Fine Arts in Dance as well as a dance career that spans well over a decade. She offers professional and personal develop- ment for aspiring and early career dancers through her company, The Working Dancer. Visit for FREE career resources.

vol. 20 • no. 1 February-April 2017 page 15

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