A Dancer’s Work Ethic

By Danielle Caldwell


For my first twenty or so years, I was dedicated to pursuing a ballet career.Martha Graham once said that “a dancer dies twice—once when they stop dancing, and this first death is the more painful.” Which is why it’s no surprise that I describe those ballet years as “my former life.”

Most people don’t really understand the discipline required to pursue this craft or know what to picture if I mention in passing that “I used to dance.” They don’t really grasp the physical demands of training six days a week for hours at a time. Or see the time spent in physical therapy to prevent injury and help combat wear and tear on the body. They don’t know that, beginning at age 11, I spent every summer away from home for intensive training while school was out. Or that by 15, I was commuting an hour to and from Manhattan six days a week to train and rehearse for hours a day.

Ballet technique is an art that can never be mastered, so dancers are simply never satisfied. Because there is always room for improvement, dancers are always asking themselves how they can be better than they were yesterday.

This certainly cultivates a work ethic that translates to any career. So, while I hung up my pointe shoes many years ago, I try my best to keep a few habits from my former life and apply them to my work as a publicist.

Fernanda Oliveira said it best in her recent post: “The dancer’s work ethic is based on habits acquired over many years. Understanding why something goes wrong, knowing that it can always be better and attending to the smallest details are three helpful ways to approach any job, and taking these steps and practicing them, if you don’t already, will help you develop a new perspective toward your job and help you become a better professional.”

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