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Behind the Curtain Blog

NDEO's "Behind the Curtain" Blog features articles written by NDEO members about dance and dance education topics as well as periodic updates on NDEO programs and services. This is a FREE resource available to ALL.


Reframing Productivity in the Studio: Intentionality Over Hustle

NDEO’s Guest Blog Series features posts written by our members about their experiences in the fields of dance and dance education. We continue this series with a post by Demi Agaiby, M.S., Dance Psychology Consultant and Director of Beyond Horizons Performance. Guest posts reflect the experiences, opinions, and viewpoints of the author and are printed here with their permission. NDEO does not endorse any business, product, or service mentioned in guest blog posts. If you are interested in learning more about the guest blogger program or submitting an article for consideration, please click here.

As dance educators, it seems as though there is constant pressure to create. Whether it's choreographing the group piece for the spring showcase or putting the final touches on a competition solo - we've all been in a situation where we are rushing to beat the clock. Although we might have a plan in place to get those things done, life happens. Perhaps a snowstorm cancels a much-needed rehearsal or your cast is falling victim to injuries and sickness. Regardless of what it is, you can never truly predict what you are walking into.

So, how can we maintain productivity in such a non-predictable environment and still reap our best results? True productivity, like the accountability steps, involves self-awareness, intentionality, and a reliable framework. Let’s dive in!

Self-Awareness is 20/20

In the same way that we ask our dancers to reflect on their values and behaviors, we should reflect on our needs by simply asking, “What is the priority in this given moment?” So, rather than blindly going through the motions, or checking things off your to-do list, you are focused on preparing actionable steps that respond to your needs. Let’s say you always begin your class with a high-energy dynamic warm-up, but you notice that your dancers have particularly low energy levels. Even though it may seem “productive” to resume business as usual, this is an opportunity to re-assess and respond accordingly. Perhaps the dancers could benefit from a gentle yoga flow or guided meditation/improvisation. When you respond to the needs of the moment, you are more likely to act in line with your values, which brings us to our next point:

Intentionality Over Hustle

The “why” behind your actions and decisions determines whether it’s actually productive. In the example above, your decision to change the warm-up routine simultaneously upholds your values of compassion and holistic well-being. True productivity remains in line with your values and motivations. When our behaviors match our values, we are more likely to experience mental clarity and a sense of control.

Just Ask SIRI

If we have a routine in place that gives us the time and space to reflect, we are more likely to engage in the practice consistently. Here's a quick and easy acronym that you can use when you are assessing your priorities and needs for the day - ask SIRI:

Scope - How does this function in the grand scheme of things?

Intention - What are my motivations? Do they align with my values?

Resources - How much time, money, energy, etc. will this require?

Impact - What's the lasting effect of this choice?

As always, this framework can be adapted to what's relevant for you. Not to mention, it can be applied outside of dance-related settings. So, no matter how many roles you are juggling, your productivity is streamlined with your values.

Demiana Agaiby is a Dance Psychology Consultant and Director of Beyond Horizons Performance based in Chicago, IL. With a B.A in Dance and B.S. in Psychology from Loyola University Chicago, Demi was convinced that the intersection of psychology and dance had powerful implications. This inspired Demi to pursue an M.S in Sport and Exercise Psychology from California State University, Long Beach. Throughout 20+ years of commercial and concert dance training, Demi is in the opportune position to cater to the evolving needs of the performing arts community. She takes a relationship- centered approach to ensure that her efforts are catered to the most pressing needs of the organization and/or individual. In establishing Beyond Horizons Performance, Demi has had the privilege of enhancing mental strength and wellness among dance studios, teams, competitions, and companies across the nation.

Photo Credits (from top to bottom): Action Shot by Pavel Danilyuk, second photo by Vlada Karpovich, third photo by Andrew Neel, Headshot by Jordan McDonnell


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