A Ballet Dancer’s Wisdom: Ways to Stay Disciplined at Work

[ 0 ] August 14, 2012 |

gC career expert Vicki Salemi interviews ballet dancer Aleksandar Antonijevic, of The National Ballet of Canada, on how focus and discipline can help you succeed…

Let’s face it, as arduous as it may be to look for a job or continue working hard on a daily basis, what could be more strenuous than a job that requires perfection? It’s the mind and beautiful movement that essentially defines the ballet.

We caught up with Aleksandar Antonijevic, principal dancer of The National Ballet of Canada, to share his lifelong wisdom and how it can be applied to your everyday life:

WATCH: How to Prioritize Your Life

  1. Aim to be the swan. Having been the principal dancer since 1995, the highest level within the national ballet, Antonijevic explains, “I think when we all start dancing, we want to be those people. We want to be Romeo, the Swan Queen, the White Swan.” That said, the overall goal he pointed out is for his body to tell a story. “It’s not how much I turn, I want a ballet that I can feel my life experience, I want to tell the story.”
  2. Get out of your own head. Someone is always judging ballet dancers as they judge themselves working out in front of a mirror and, of course, then an audience. “Your spirit can get lost, someone’s judging you and telling you it’s not right, so you’re trying to find yourself in your requirements,” he says. “We are critical….You are here in this moment, it’s a gift. It’s a gift to be alive and your youth is beautiful, enjoy today. But somehow everyone wants to be perfect and successful and everything gets so outside as opposed to inside.”
  3. Accept competition: Do your best, detach from the rest. Whatever your role – ballet dancer, HR manager, blogger – chances are, someone (or more than one person) is vying for your job, as well. In a recent e-mail he received from a young dancer trying to get accepted into the national ballet school, he replied, “Listen, do the best you can do today and be happy with it, whether it’s the national ballet school or Timbuktu in Alaska. Be the artist you can be in the moment. Everything else is out of your control – if the director wants dark or light hair, you can’t control that.”
  4. Block out distractions. Sure, we all get distracted at work (Facebook, anyone?), but imagine being on stage and losing your train of thought while all eyes are on you in a simple blue unitard. “If you do a piece that’s twenty minutes long, it’s daunting. There’s not a second you can let down … It’s a constant dialogue,” he dishes. “I’m saying I just want to have the one most magical show and there’s no noise … artists need to be in the moment.”
  5. Vicki Salemi

    Get a hobby. Seriously. For this performer, it means going from being a model to photographer. “It’s very creative, it’s very challenging … I need challenges as a human being to grow and learn.”Antonijevic enjoys doing a lot of skin and human body space photos since it’s a natural extension for his passion that’s artistic and creative. Exhibits of his photographs are displayed in galleries and the Four Seasons Center for the Performing Arts in Toronto, for example.

  6. Accept that you’re good enough. The principal dancer shares his life lesson that took a while to figure out: “Now, I’ve accepted that I was good enough. I am good enough … I think this whole journey is a gift, I just wish I knew back then how to enjoy it more. When I handle the barre every morning, I think, ‘This is a gift. This breath is a gift.’”

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Category: Career, Career Development

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About Vicki Salemi: Vicki Salemi is a career expert who taps into her 13+ years of experience as a human resources/recruiting executive at KPMG and Deloitte to enlighten and empower people. She’s an author, journalist, public speaker and [...]
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