Dance News

What's the Worst Advice You've Ever Received?

It’s official—our April issue is in subscribers' hands! (Non-subscribers, don’t fret, it will be on sale Tuesday, March 19.) In this issue, we asked dancers, “What’s the worst advice you’ve ever received?” And they came up with some doozies—from being told to change up their look to being told that being mean to younger dancers was the best way to get ahead (oh no!).

The article inspired the Dance Spirit staff to think back on some of the most terrible advice we’ve heard in the past. Mine was in high school, when a college admissions counselor told me the only way to keep dancing in college was to attend a conservatory. He couldn’t have been more wrong! There are a million ways to dance in college, even if you’re not a dance major. For me, that was being a dance minor and joining as many extracurricular clubs as possible.

Here’s what the rest of the DS staff had to say:

“If you have a backless costume and can’t wear a bra, just use Duct tape to hold yourself in instead! No. Terrible idea. And I have the scars to prove it.” —Alison Feller, editor in chief

“That ‘faking it until you make it’ was the best way to approach turnout. Now, one thoroughly messed-up knee later, I know better.” —Margaret Fuhrer, associate editor

“I once had a choreographer tell me to start dancing professionally straight out of high school. Instead, I went to college and joined my school’s dance team. It was the best decision I ever made—and it led to me working at Dance Spirit!” —Michael Anne Bailey, assistant/fashion editor

“One of my teachers said if I didn’t get my name in lights on Broadway, the only other option for being ‘successful’ in the dance world was to become a teacher. False!” —Nicole Bilbao, editorial intern

“A teacher once encouraged me to wear a traditional black leotard and pink tights to a college dance audition. While this does always look professional, it’s important to check and see if there’s a dress code at the auditions you attend. And if there’s not, wear a bright leotard or something to help you stand out in a room of talented dancers.” —Megan Kirsch, editorial intern

And that’s not all. Our amazing advisory board also chimed in with a few pearls of awful wisdom:

“I’ve been told, ‘Do this job, you’ll make a fortune and then be able to cruise for a bit and do whatever jobs you want.’ Every time I’ve been told a job was going to make me a lot of money, it never panned out—and my artistic sensibilities were compromised. The best work, the work that changes lives, is work that we connect to, work that we love. Yes, we have to pay rent, but we also have to stay true to ourselves, and we’ll be miserable if we take a job for the wrong reason. Remember, there’s no sure thing in show business.” —Andy Blankenbuehler, choreographer

“I don’t remember receiving any bad advice—I only remember giving it! I told Simon Fuller that getting the public to vote on ‘American Idol’ wouldn’t work, and that ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ would fail.” —Nigel Lithgow, dancer, choreographer, television producer, director

“I was told not to move to NYC. I’m so glad I didn’t listen to that advice! For the last 16 years, this city has been an amazing place for me to call home. I’ve thrived here.” —Diane King, owner/director, Broadway Dance Center

“I was working on a music video when I first moved to L.A. and the director told me that if I didn’t kiss another one of the male dancers in the video, my job was in jeopardy. It made me uncomfortable, and I stuck to my guns and said I wouldn’t do it. In the end, they scrapped the scene anyway and I kept my job. Moral of the story: Stay true to yourself. Your morals are all you’ve got.” —Tony Testa, choreographer

It’s true—some advice is just not worth taking. Now it’s your turn to spill: What’s the worst advice you’ve ever received? Tell us in the comments below!

Photo by Joe Toreno

The coolest place she's ever performed:

I'd have to say the Super Bowl. The field was so cool, and Katy Perry was right there. And there were so many eyes—definitely the most eyes I've ever performed for!


Something she's constantly working on:

My feet. I'm flat-footed, so I'm always hearing, 'Point your toes!' And I'm like, 'I am!'


Signature look:

My hair! That, and a pair of leggings with a T-shirt or tank top.


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