When a dancer joins a ballet company, school, or training program, there is an instant sense of belonging to a group of people with one major common denominator: dance. For better or worse, this group can become like family after spending enough time around each other, day in and day out. Sometimes these are the people that see us at our most vulnerable, either inside or outside of the studio. It’s easier to make friends with those who share mutual passions and interests, so it’s understandable why we naturally form close bonds with coworkers or peers, especially when it comes to dance.
But are there benefits to also building friendships and relationships with people outside of your immediate community? Yes! Do you have to? No! Everybody is different, and we all have different needs. That being said, there can definitely be a lot to learn from people with different life experiences and perspectives.
Some dancers may experience this diversification if they attend a college or university and meet others pursuing different degrees; others, by becoming involved in various facets of the community in which they live (think of causes that are important to you, and look for local organizations that support them!) It can even be helpful and refreshing to get to know other dancers from different companies or schools within the same community. Meeting and forming relationships new people, can be challenging, though, as dancers usually spend every day in the studio with the same people, and by the time the evening comes around are often too exhausted to even think of doing anything else.
It is also usually easier to talk with others in our same immediate circle about specifically dance related problems or experiences than it can be to outsiders (try explaining the woes of falling out of a pirouette or wanting a higher arabesque to a non-dancer... it’s just not the same!) Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone can, however, lead to stimulating new perspectives and ideas that can actually enrich our lives as dancers and artists.
By expanding your sphere of friends or acquaintances, you never know what you might discover: new friends, new perspectives, or even new interests that you never knew you had!