Just the musings of a small-town professional ballerina, business owner, wife, and beagle mama as she attempts to make it through this thing called life.

Dec 14, 2015

split etiquette 101

All too frequently, roles need to be shared. You and another dancer(s) will be doing the same steps at different times and will likely be compared. There's a lot of pressure that comes with that and sometimes it's tough to handle. We dancers are competitive by nature and sharing the spotlight does not always bring out the best in people. Our industry is a stressful one and it's important to maintain positive "employee relations" in order to have a work environment conducive to beauty, art, and high performance under pressure. Here are a few guidelines that will keep you and your fellow dancers smiling at one another and the claws tucked away.

1. Never use the words "amazing," "stunning," "perfect," or any synonyms to those words in reference to yourself.

First and fore mostly because it wasn't perfect. There's no such thing. We can always do and be better, we are never perfect, and thinking you are (or worse, expressing that you are to other people) will rub others the wrong way.  Modesty is a virtue and should be practiced relentlessly. Not only will it make others respect you more, it will keep you grounded and motivate you to improve. When someone asks, "How did it go?!" after a particularly killer performance, an acceptable and modest response would be, "It went well, I feel really good about it!" rather than "I was perfect and it was amazing! I couldn't be any happier with myself." Do we need to flashback to the "S*!# Ballerinas Say" video?

2. Don't throw a hissy fit when things don't go as well as you had hoped.

No one likes a drama queen. Don't slam your prop on the props table, don't huff and stomp your feet, it's in the past and the only thing that can be done from here is more work towards improvement. Everyone has off days, and it's not very nice to throw yours in others' faces. It's ok to be disappointed, but again, modesty comes into play here.


3. Share the rehearsal time.

Sometimes it's meticulously scheduled and planned out so everyone can have an equal amount of rehearsal time, but sometimes it's not. Be careful not to monopolize the rehearsal time and give others a turn. Hijacking someone's rehearsal certainly won't make any friends, so read the schedule carefully and be sure to understand or even ask who will be in what role at that time. If you don't know or aren't sure who should be going, it's always best to ask. When someone happens to incorrectly assumes it's their turn, it's okay to politely let them know they've made a mistake.


4. You're not competing with your split(s), you're competing with yourself.

This mentality alone will make your life so much easier. Focus on YOU. Getting caught up in the competition of it is easy to do and difficult to stop. All us ballerinas are competitive, type A, and perfectionists. It's a difficult environment to thrive in, so don't get bogged down with the external crap. Focus on your own joy of dancing, progress, and passion.

5. Let them have their moment and expect them to let you have yours.

It can be extraordinary stressful to share a role, let alone a partner. In small companies, it is not uncommon for two girls to be splitting a role and be sharing the same partner. When it's their show to be doing the role you share, let them enjoy it. Let them work with their partner, let them soak it all in, and let them have their moment. Yes, they should still follow the split etiquette rules above and refrain from bragging or gloating about how wonderful their performance was, but let them be happy about it and they'll do the same to you.

6. You don't have to watch each other and you don't have to fawn over each other.

It can be hard to watch your split perform the role you wish you were doing at that time or that you enjoy doing. You don't need to watch your split perform it every time or be their #1 fan; you do have a job to do yourself too. However, a courteous and genuine, "Nice job," or "That was good!" will always be the way to go. You would appreciate it if they said it to you, so why not spread the love?


7. Just be kind.

Dancing is hard. Performing is hard. And being cold, or rude, or anything but empathetic to your coworkers won't make it any easier. So take a deep breath and #throwback to the Cinderella movie.


  1. Some great points! There's going to be drama no matter where you go but sometimes taking the high road and practicing humility can make everything that much easier.

  2. Lol the gifs are perfect