After a few years on your dance team, you finally become captain — you’re living the dream! But whether you’re the captain of your dance team or you’re a rising choreographer in your ballet company, the day may come that you get a chance to choreograph. And that’s huge! It also likely means you’ll be choreographing on and directing some of your very best friends.
Being the #bosslady can be rewarding and exhilarating, but if you’re new to the position of power, it can also be overwhelming and stressful. “I was super nervous about choreographing and directing my friends,” admits Macie Davies, a junior at Brigham Young University and co-captain of the school’s competitive dance team. Unsure about how to transition from dancer to leader? Heed this advice from Davies and Shaye Edwards, co-captains of the national award-winning Brigham Young University Cougarettes.
1. Learn to separate your personal life and dance life.
“Placing my friends in certain spots or correcting them wasn’t personal,” says Davies. “It was always to help them and our team.”
2. Be an equal opportunity leader.
“Choreographing and directing your friends can be hard because everyone on the team is our friend — and we can’t always please everyone,” says Edwards. “It’s important to remember that everyone on the team is amazing and brings a unique talent. Giving each dancer an opportunity in some way helps keep everyone happy, and makes each team member feel like she plays an important role on the team.”
3. Be direct.
“When you’re shy and beat around the bush, it turns out being awkward,” says Davies. “Say exactly what you’re thinking — politely — and get it out of the way.”
4. Stay positive.
“As leaders, it’s important to keep the atmosphere in our practices positive,” says Edwards. “The team looks up to its leaders — monkey see, monkey do. If Macie and I walk into practice with a positive attitude and hardworking mindset, the team is no doubt going to have the same attitude and mindset. But the second we walk into practice with even the slightest amount of negativity, the energy in the room will drop.”
5. Lead by example.
“I was surprised by how much my peers really respected me,” says Davies. “If you’re respectful to them and you lead by example, they’ll respect you in turn.” That also means sometimes doing things you may not want to do. “The most important thing I can do as a captain is to go the extra mile,” says Edwards. “To work on things we aren’t asked to do, and to always be a positive teammate. It’s amazing how much of a difference those things can make.”
6. Be kind.
“Being kind is something I have to be very cautious of when I’m teaching my friends,” says Edwards. “As a dance captain, there’s a lot of pressure on us. When a performance doesn’t go as well as we would have liked, those mistakes fall on our shoulders. Sometimes we have to be stern in practice to get things to the level we want them, but I think it’s key to always give positive criticism. As long as your teammates know that any correction is out of love, all will be well.”
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
“Just because you’re the captain and are the leader of the team doesn’t mean you can’t learn from your fellow dancers and ask for their help,” says Davies.