Categories
blog business

Why you should quit the shitty job you hate

Many people who dance entertain the thought of becoming a professional dancer. If you are working in a job that you don’t like or even despise, you should give it a shot. Here is why.

A job you hate is bad for your soul.

The headline is dramatic, I know, but so is the emotional impact of slaving away at work if you don’t care about it. Deep down, you think that the work you do is not worth doing. You know that there is something more fulfilling or even meaningful for you. If you don’t act on that, some of you (probably your subconsciousness – but I’m no psychologist so take the details with a grain of salt) will tell you that you are a loser, a slave or worse.

To lead a fulfilled life, you need to have the whole you on the team, not a part of you throwing punchlines to your head all the time. Trust me, I have been there, felt that, have quit the job and now life is better.

External stress

Deadlines can be a catalyst for good work if you care about what you do. If you don’t, deadlines create unnecessary and unhealthy stress. Most jobs nowadays consist of holding multiple deadlines a week.

Someone else defines that what you do is urgent, but you disagree because it is simply not important.

Living a life, you don’t care about

If you don’t care for the work you do and are working a regular 9 to 5, you spent most of your life sleeping and doing stuff you don’t care about.

That’s one of the things you should read again.

You can simply test out the waters.

There is no need to quit your job immediately if you feel that dance is calling for you. Start it as a side-hustle and see if you can earn some extra money. If you can, slowly decrease your regular work and increase your dance biz.

The good thing is: if you find out, dance is not for you, you can just quit the side-hustle or go back to a regular job. The commitment is not eternal.

Job security is a lie.

With any given crisis, you can lose your “secure” job as well. So there is no need to pretend it is more secure than doing what you love.

Build your vision

You either build your vision or help someone else build theirs. So you always help to make something. What reason is there to help to create something you don’t identify with. What reason is there to slave away in a job you hate?

You owe it to yourself.

You should treat yourself with enough respect to a least try doing something you love. You don’t want to look back at your life and wonder “what if I had become a pro dancer”, do you?

Categories
blog

Book Recommendations for the start of 2021

If you want to start the year with some reading, I have a list of book recommendations that I really enjoyed in 2020. Maybe there is something in there for you as well.

  1. Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers.
    If you have children or are teaching children in a class, this is a book for you. The content is invaluable, but it is a little bit difficult to read because the authors repeat the same topics over and over. Still my number one book for this year.
  2. The Practice: Shipping Creative Work.
    The motivational kick-in-the-ass for creatives who are eager to make a difference with their own work that matter.
  3. The Neuromancer Trilogy.
    That one is fiction. If you like the stories of the Matrix, this one is perfect. Neuromancer is widely considered as the birth of the Cyberpunk genre.
  4. Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality without Religion.
    The right read for people who want to explore spirituality from a scientific point of view. Free of dogmatism.
  5. Japanese Tales (The Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library).
    A collection of tales and mythical stories. Full of metaphors about life.
  6. Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids about Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!
    An eye-opener in financial education. While I consider this book an absolute must-read, there is no need to read the others from Robert Kyosaki. Almost everything comes back to the principles explained here.
  7. Cryptocurrency – A Trader’s Handbook: A Complete Guide On How To Trade Bitcoin And Altcoins.
    If you are interested in the techy domain of cryptocurrency and how it can become a valuable asset in your life: don’t leave this one on the shelf.

The links above are affiliate links. If you buy one of the recommended books via Amazon, I get a small part of what you pay as a provision. The price for you stays the same but it supports me and my work. That would be much appreciated.

Categories
dance concepts dance espresso

Why we need to separate creation from evaluation

Why do many people get stuck when they try to create new moves or routines? The answer is simple, but its impact is often underestimated, and therefore, people tend to ignore it. Creation and evaluation (analysis, assessment) are very different processes:

In creation mode, you want the ideas to flow freely.
Creativity is what you need.

In evaluation mode, you need to analyse your results from creation.
Logic is taking the lead here.

A popular scientific theory says that different sides of your brain are responsible for these two different tasks. And they don’t work well together. So if you try to do both at the same time, you are doing both inefficiently.

I can not comment if this theory is right or not, because I lack the scientific understanding. But I know that I work better when I only create at one time and judge later.

When you get stuck in your creation process, try to get rid of the voice in your head that wants to evaluate immediately. Film yourself and do that later. You will see the differences.

And finally, let’s grab a Dance Espresso over this topic:

Categories
business dance espresso

How to maintain a great signal to noise ratio?

When we talk about marketing, one of the things we should be aware of is our Signal/Noise ratio. The metaphor refers to a technical issue from analog radio broadcasts. When you communicate via radio, you have to listen on the same frequency as the sender is broadcasting and vice versa. If you are slightly off the frequency, you hear the broadcast but with a lot of hisses. If you are far away from the frequency you receive either only hiss, aka noise, or another signal (that you are not looking for).

Let’s grab a Dance Espresso over that topic:

What does Signal/Noise ration mean as a metaphor?

In times of social media, we all broadcast continuously with our posts, likes, shares, tweets, and whatever. If we are smart with our marketing strategy, and if we know our goals and artist identity, we aspire to send a lot of signal, while avoiding to add noise. Signal would be everything that aligns with our purposes, the message we want to spread, and the thing we want to be associated with. Noise is everything that has nothing to do with our signal or even distracts from it.

An example: when we want to spread a message about dancing, choreographing, and traveling the world, everything that is about our dancing and seeing exciting places works as a signal. But posting our daily coffee is a distraction, as are videos from our cats. Those two would be adding noise.

Who defines what noise is?

You do. Only you decide what it is that you want to “broadcast” to the world. It’s not essential what you send out if you only have a private channel and want to connect with friends. But as soon as your social media channels are part of your business, defining and sticking to your signal matters. It’s part of your promise to the world.

How much noise is fine?

Again, that is a question that only you can answer. It depends heavily on what strategy you have to connect with your followers. Noise is everywhere on the frequency spectrum, so it might help you to reach people you might not reach without it. But noise also waters down the value of your broadcast for everyone who is looking for your signal. As a rule of thumb: When you want to be perceived as an expert in your field and it is a niche, keep the noise level low. If you want to reach a broad audience, the noise percentage can be higher. If it’s not possible to differentiate between signal and noise, the noise is too high.

When I released my first book Dance Smart, I dived a little bit more into marketing and therefore stumbled upon this topic. While I am did a pretty good job with my Signal/Noise ratio on the blog, my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram Signal/Noise ratios sucked. I gradually improved that over 2020 but I am still not there

Categories
business

How brutal honesty improves your artistic growth

Brutal honesty sounds like an evil thing. But in reality, it is a state of mind that will calibrate your expectations and help you to plan your next steps more accurate, which will lead to faster growth in your art, business and character.

Honesty is telling the truth to ourselves and others. Integrity is living that truth.

Kenneth H. Blanchard

Unrealistic self-talk is sabotage

Sadly, I know too many people who have an unrealistic image of their capabilities and skills. This issue goes both ways and is rarely a matter of the wrong point of view. We have those who think they are really good or even exceptional at something, while barely scratching the surface. On the other hand, some people don’t trust their skills enough and put themselves down while doing outstanding work.

Both of these extremes are unhealthy for the development of your craft and character. Being able to execute ten footwork steps with two different rhythms does not make one good at footwork. It means you should invest more time into it, to make it out of beginner territory. And doubting your performance abilities, when your dance reaches strangers emotionally is stupid as well. If you can do that, develop it further and be proud that you can have such an impact on stage.

Brutal honesty only hurts in the short-term

When you are honest with yourself and admit weaknesses, you can build a path of action based on a realistic starting point. This will lead to much faster results, than plotting your journey from a moment you did not even reach yet. 

You might feel uncomfortable by accepting that you are not as advanced as you are in a particular field. Still, the immediate improvement of your onwards journey, due to realistic expectations, will make up for it and bring you to a much brighter place in the long game.

Also, you decide how harsh or gentle your self-talk is. Honesty is not related to the tone of voice you apply.

You don't need a crystal ball to map out your future, being brutally honest about your starting point, will do as well.
photo: Tomas Kirvėla via Scopio

Brutal honesty is not the enemy of affirmations or self-motivation

When you are realistic about your situation, there is nothing wrong in positive self-talk and affirming yourself that you can achieve something. The step from self-delusion to trying to motivate yourself to do better is in knowing your current situation. Affirmations should help yourself to believe you can achieve something, not to cloud your judgment.

Honesty is often very hard. The truth is often painful. But the freedom it can bring is worth the trying.

Fred Rogers

Brutal honesty with others

When we talk to others, the case is similar. If we genuinely care about someone, we should not add to their delusion. In the long term, we do them a much bigger favour, if we tell them the truth and help them grow instead of reassuring them in a wrong image of their selves.

Considering we know these people well, we can tune the tone of our words to their emotional state and give nice suggestions instead of harsh critique.

Categories
blog

Breaking at Olympia 2024: What will happen?

On December 7, 2020, the IOC officially approved breaking as a discipline at the Olympic Games in Paris 2024. That’s exciting news for competitive breaking, but the dance scene is ambivalent about it. There is widespread concern that the essence of our dance might get lost, once it gets drawn into the world of sports.

The risk of breakdance being part of the Olympic Games

The biggest fear that is around in the dance scene is that breaking will become detached from its cultural roots and the bigger part of the world will perceive it as an acrobatic form of sports, instead of an art form that goes hand in hand with cultural values. There is nothing we can say to debunk this claim. That is a possibility, but it is not inevitable.

How the wider public (outside the dance scene) perceives breaking will depend on how the competitions are judged and who the judges will be. If we are honest about this point, there is no difference to events that are happening right now. Depending on the judges panel, the character of events changes a lot.

Also, the mainstream media and therefore, the majority of people worldwide already perceive our dance as acrobatics and not a dance. When we ask random people about breaking, they have no idea what we mean. When we ask about breakdance, they know it is about spinning on your head.

The advantages of breaking at Olympia

With breaking becoming an Olympic discipline, its exposure will be much bigger. As mentioned before, there lies the risk of creating the wrong image in many minds. But if you pay attention to the discussion and the signs that Olympia sends out, they at least try to do it right. They call it Breaking instead of Breakdance, even though the majority of people are not familiar with that name. So they are, at least, aware of the responsibility.

The bigger exposure will create a lot of opportunities for dancers to earn more money and educate the public (if they choose to do so). The older generation will be able to judge and share their view about dance and culture. The young generation will have an additional platform to test their skills. This platform will most likely be the one with the most attention when we count eyeballs. This attention will lead to even more brands and sponsors come on-board for breaking, which opens up opportunities for people to make a living from breaking.

Will breaking change because of its inclusion into the Olympic Games?

Yes and No. We will see an increased focus on the athletic aspects of the dance. The young generation is already pushing the boundaries of what can be done. Olympia will only speed up this development, but it is not its sole reason. Breaking has always been a phenomenon living in the twilight between art and sports, and the aspect that caught people’s initial attention was the acrobatics. This will not change.

The jams, battles and gatherings were we celebrate the culture will not go away, just because there is an additional platform. Underground events that are true to the culture will still be around, and they are not competing with sports competitions. It will be in the power and responsibility of all the b-girls and b-boys participating in significant sports events, like Olympia, to represent our culture appropriately. This includes competitors, but also judges, consultants and even visitors who are familiar with the culture.

Manny talked to Red Bull BC One 2020 E-Battle Champ and World Final Runner-Up Madmax about the balance between being an athlete and an artist. Also, Tracy interviewed Ayane, talking about her point of view when thinking about Paris 2024. I highly recommend you read them both.

We need to play it smart instead of being stubborn

If we want to stay relevant in this thing, we need to play it smart, instead of insisting on being right because we were there before Olympia and other big players. There is a lot to do around big competitions with worldwide participation and media coverage. And we (as people that live in and love the scene) are not good at these things yet, because we never deemed them essential.

I am talking about commentators, analysts, documentation, physical and mental training methods, coaching, mentoring, own independent media coverage – no matter if it is written, video or audio – and many more things that are part of any big competition. People that cover sports for decades have that shit down, and we are just getting started. Of course, some single individuals and companies play the game already, but as a whole scene, we don’t. This could become an issue as people with no interest in the culture would coin the public opinion.

It is up to us to develop the abilities to fill as many of these needed roles as possible. Even for dancers that don’t compete, there are opportunities to bring their expertise and do jobs linked to their passion. Some might even find out that these new opportunities suit them better than competing themselves. The potential to make it happen is there. But it will be a rough ride to level up fast enough to be ready for the competition in 2024. One question remains: Is it important enough for us to try, or will we stay on the sidelines and hate about others making their moves?

Categories
blog business

How to properly research a topic

Research is an essential component in most contemporary works of art and also in a lot of jobs that aren’t related to art at all. The opinions what research is and how to research appropriately vary by great lengths. This is my point of view on this topic.

Not all research is equal

Depending on your project, your requirements for research will differ. In a scientific paper, you will need to quote all sources, verify their credibility and do so as well for the sources of your sources, if you want to be taken seriously. When you research for an artistic project like a stage piece, it might be sufficient to find opinions instead of facts, so the need for verification of every source might not be needed. 

If your art wanders into the fields of political activism (which is indeed often the case and the premise for the core of this article), you better dig deep and make sure that you are telling the truth or you risk to lose all credibility when it easy to debunk your claims. People tend to not believe people again, once they could find a lie themselves.

No research is ever quite complete. It is the glory of a good bit of work that it opens the way for something still better, and this repeatedly leads to its own eclipse.

Mervin Gordon

Tools of research

Access to information via the internet seems to make research much easier than ever before. This is partially true. It is easier than ever before to find info about every topic, but the quality of that information is not as reliable as it was in a time when putting out information was harder to do.

  1. Nevertheless, our research usually starts online. Google the topic. Make your search specific and not generic. If you consider censorship and filter-bubbles as an issue (you should) do the same search with another search engine that is not based on Google.
  2. Search social network, discussion forums, community pages and specialised sites for info on the topic. Don’t stop after checking Facebook and Youtube. These two platforms are owned by the biggest corporations that earn money, with your data and preferences. They cater strongly to what they think you want to read. Specific discussion forums and alternative networks that don’t earn money with your data should be your prefered sources online. Examples would be reddit or the social network minds. Which platforms you go to depends on the topics you search for.
  3. Check out documentaries about the topic.
  4. During steps 1 – 3, you hopefully picked up some names of experts for your topic. Grab their books from the library if they published something, check their blog, social media and whatever is available. If possible, get in contact and talk or write with them.
  5. If they reference others in their work, repeat the steps above with those people as well. This can be a time-consuming loop until you really get to the point when you find the source of something.
A visit in the library to grab some books should be part of every serious research project.
Your resarch should also lead you to the library, not only to your laptop.
Photo by Aleksey Popov on Scopio.

Golden rules

  1. Don’t prefer one opinion over the other, just because it suits your point of view. Check all theories with the same enthusiasm and depth of research, until you debunk or confirm them.
  2. The fewer sources you have, the less reliable your information.
  3. The farther away your sources are from the origin of the information, the less reliable your info.
  4. Spreading false information will hurt your reputation.
  5. So will sharing misleading information.
  6. If you consider your topics to be the target of censorship and your primary sources are platforms that use algorithms to decide what they show you, you are doing it wrong. 

In the end, research always comes down to asking the right questions. Only you can know what these questions should. Be honest to yourself and invest enough time to come up with everything important to your project.

Categories
blog dance espresso

Social media is not the problem

Often we tend to feel that social media is keeping us from doing more important or more productive things. But saying social media is the problem is a serious misinterpretation of the case.

If we hang out online instead of doing stuff we want to do – the problem are our priorities. Because we just don’t want it enough. Facebook and friends can be ignored if we really have something to do.

via GIPHY

Recently I made a Dance Espresso about that topic. Bottom-line: we need to be the master of our digital life or we will become it’s slave.

Categories
documentation

Stuff to read about the Red Bull BC One World Final 2020

Over the weekend, I worked on the Red Bull BC One World Final 2020 as part of the editorial team. Here is a list of the stuff we wrote about the event and the winners. (some stories are not linked as they are not yet published)

My favorite quotes from the weekend

My secret is I am not afraid to lose. I am just in the moment and want to represent myself in the best way, the true way.

Kastet

As long as we love dancing and music, we are happy, you know. […] We can do in 2021 for sure. So just stay strong and see you in 2021.

Shigekix

Watch the Replay of the Red Bull BC One 2020

Last year, I wrote a little bit about the 2019 Red Bull BC One World Final in India if you want to check on that.

Categories
dance espresso

But you are not a pro!

Sometimes people use really stupid things to try and diss each other, like the phrase “but you are not a pro.” It is absolutely beyond me, how anyone could think this is a clever way to diss somebody. Check it out in the new Dance Espresso.

Reasons why “but you are not a pro” is absolutely bonkers

  • Being a pro is not related to your level on the dance floor but comes down to a lot of other skills too
  • Not becoming a pro can be a smart decision for a lot of people who want to keep their passion pure and not connected to the need for making money
  • Dissing somebody for his job choices should not be a thing at all. Don’t we have better stuff to do? I think, we have.