Goal Setting for Dancers: Strategies and Actionable Steps

When you look at your dance future, what do you see? If you’re intimidated by the big goals you have, you’re not alone. 

Long-term goals can be incredible for helping you visualize your dream life, but they can also leave you feeling unsure of where to start. 

In this article, we’ll explore effective strategies and actionable steps for goal setting in the dance world. Unlock your full potential and work your way to your dreams with these tips for setting goals for dancers.

goals for dancers

Table of Contents

The Importance of a Holistic Approach to Setting Goals for Dancers

We live in a world where we are tugged in many different directions at once and we have to factor in many things to make decisions about where we focus our time, money, and energy. Approaching goals from a holistic perspective is essential so you can encompass objectives across a variety of areas in your life, and make sure they are not in conflict with one another.

The key to success is rooting into your values. Start by identifying your values broadly and then fit your goals into them.

Your list of values could be:

  • Balance time between work, family, and friends
  • Only dance for teachers/directors who are emotionally supportive
  • Build out a schedule that always has space in it for free time
  • Maintain financial independence

This approach can help you be more realistic and assure your goals are attainable. 

For example: If you made a goal to take 3 dance classes per week in isolation of these values, that number could feel arbitrary or aspirational, but not achievable. Coming at it from a holistic perspective, you know that maintaining financial independence and spending time with family and friends is important to you. With those things in mind, you may decide on 2 classes a week so you have some money to put into your savings account and one evening a week to spend with family and friends.

Starting with your values will help with:

  • Staying motivated
  • Making decisions
  • Giving your goals purpose
  • Prioritizing

This approach will help you feel more balanced overall. 

Read on to learn more about specific types of goals for dancers and practical steps to get started!

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3 Types of Goals for Dancers

What are some common dance goals?

Depending on where you are in your dance career, the types of goals you set for yourself might look different from your peers, or even yourself from year to year.

Goals for dancers might include steps to improve your:

  • Technique 
  • Artistic style
  • Choreography 
  • Performance ability 
  • Stamina 
  • Flexibility
  • And more

Goals can (and will) shift throughout various stages of your career, so it’s helpful to define and prioritize what you need to work on now, in this stage. 

#1: Technical Goals

Technical goals can be a great place to start because they are easier to track and measure progress on.

Whether you want to achieve better balance, control, kicks, spotting, or alignment, many dancers regularly set technical goals for themselves to better their artistry and or bring a new level of precision to their dance practice.

A technical goal could be:

  • Improving your handstands/inversions 
  • Having better control of your turns 
  • Increasing hamstring flexibility
  • Increasing cardio stamina

Here are some tips for setting Technical Goals:

  1. Establishing SMART — specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound — goals is essential to help you see exactly where progress needs to be made.
  2. Prioritize! You will see more progress and the results will be more clear if you focus on one or two goals at a time.

goals for dancers

#2: Artistic Goals

Whether you pride yourself on your artistry and expressive performance or this is an area you want to challenge yourself to grow in, setting artistic goals is a great way to develop as a dancer

Maybe you’re looking to: 

  • Become more comfortable with a certain style of dance
  • Perform to the audience more 
  • Practice your transitions 
  • Enhance your emotional performance 
  • Up your connection to the choreography and use more expression 
  • Hone your musicality

As an expression of art, setting artistic dance goals can help you deepen your ability to tell a story and connect with your audience. 

Tips for achieving Artistic Goals:

  1. Do plenty of work on your own focusing on dancing from the inside out. In many styles of dance, it’s easy to get caught up in aesthetics. Bringing your own personal style and authenticity requires taking cues from your body, not the mirror or video.
  2. Ask a trusted dance friend or mentor to help you. An outside eye can help you learn about tendencies you didn’t know you had (like looking down or hunching your shoulders)

#3: Attitude Goals

Dance can be a mental practice just as much as a physical one.

Setting attitude goals for dancers is a sure way to improve mindset, resilience, and overall growth. 

As a dancer, attitude goals you could set for yourself might include:

  • Embracing corrections or constructive criticism 
  • Practicing confidence and affirmations to overcome self-doubt
  • Showing up early
  • Practicing on your own time
  • Exploring and experimenting without fear of failure

While you may set attitude goals for yourself, the effects can extend far beyond yourself. For example:

  • Building mental resilience and a positive attitude can make you a better team player and help you overcome obstacles and stay motivated. 
  • Embracing your unique gifts and being self-assured can help empower those around you and make you a stronger performer. 
  • Holding yourself accountable to practice times, showing up promptly and prepared reflect well on you, while also showing your fellow dancers and your superiors that you respect them and value their time. 
  • When you embrace feedback as a gift, without getting defensive, you’re able to continually grow as a dancer and further build on your skills. 
  • Dance is collaborative by nature, so incorporating a supportive and respectful attitude can foster a professional environment and lead to potential performance opportunities

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3 Steps To Creating and Achieving Your Goals for Dancing

#1: Know Your Why

Whether goal, vision, or purpose, identifying your “why” is where you need to start. Think about what you like, what inspires you, and what you’re trying to achieve. 

If you’re feeling stuck or like your “why” is a bit too big a picture, try focusing on finding clarity on how dance shows up in your life.

For example, you can start by asking yourself if you need to get paid for your work in dance. Is dance part of your cultural heritage, and getting paid is not the reason you practice? Or does getting paid to dance ruin the joy that dance brings to your life? 

If dance is a profession or livelihood, consider:

  • Learning how a career in the arts works and how you can make money from it.
  • Finding a mentor or, better yet, signing up for 1:1 Sessions.
  • Setting up a training schedule.
  • Building out your tools to make dance a sustainable profession (i.e. finding health care providers, etc.)

If dancing is not how you’ll make a living, but you still want to keep it an active part of your life, consider the ways it intersects with what you do want to do for your livelihood. 

For example, you might consider becoming: 

  • A physical therapist who works with dancers.
  • A teacher who brings dance into the classroom.
  • An architect who keeps an active dance practice to help them creatively think about the use of space.
  • A local leader who uses their knowledge of dance to build community and trust with others. 

Whatever your “why,” the opportunities to create goals to incorporate dance into your life are endless.

Goals serve as a constant reminder of the bigger picture, instilling perseverance and resilience when obstacles get in the way. 

goals for dancers

#2: Be a “Whole Human”

When you’re honing a craft, it can feel all-consuming. You want to eat, sleep, breathe your skill, and practice until it’s perfect — but that type of training is just not sustainable. Whether from injury, illness or simply the inevitable process of aging and going through new life stages, you and your goals will encounter obstacles that you’ll have to deal with. The best way to give your dance career longevity is to make sure your eggs aren’t all in one basket.

Trust us, your future self will thank you for maintaining a more well-rounded identity from the beginning!

You are a dancer, but you’re also a friend, child, maybe a sibling or a parent, a citizen, and inevitably part of a greater community.

Don’t let your goals for dance define you in a way that limits you from exploring other things that will bring fulfillment to your life.

Allow dance to fit into your life instead of allowing your life to revolve around your dance practice.

#3: Find a Mentor

Who better to ask about the steps to get to where you want to be than the person who is living your dream right now?

Whether it’s a professional dancer or an instructor, find someone who’s doing what you want to do, and learn from them. 

Sit down for a talk with them, and shadow them, learn about their experience setting goals for themselves and the steps they took to get where they are today.

Dance Wire Offers personalized 1:1 support for both individual dance artists and organizations — and the intro session is FREE.

We talk about:

  • Where you’re at 
  • Your goals; and
  • Your desired timeline for reaching those goals

We then help you break everything down into manageable, reachable steps based on your goals and priorities. 

From there, we provide ongoing support, with frequency options based on the amount of time you have available to dedicate to advancing your work. 

Schedule your free intro session today!

Dance Wire: Empowering Dance Professionals To Discover Their Goals and Reach Their Full Potential

Dance Wire wants to help professional dancers find success and fulfillment in the dance world. 

Whether you’re needing help creating a performance resume or prepping for your next audition, our empowering community of like-minded people is here to provide the encouragement and resources you need to reach your goals.

Contact us today to learn more.

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