Do you struggle with finding your mojo sometimes?
Welcome to the June edition of Professional Ambitions, my blog series on the trials and tribulations of trying to be a professional fusion belly dancer.
This month’s topic comes via special request from a reader!
How to Get Your Mojo Back
Wow am I feeling this one right now. Between Culmination and moving, I am exhausted! I am daunted by all I have to do to complete my Culmination testing requirements. I feel like I never have enough time to practice, even though I have deadlines looming over me. And it’s hard to feel like a glamorous belly dancer when I’m constantly covered in a layer of dust from digging through years of STUFF.
It’s been 10 days since I’ve even worn makeup! I mean, who even am I now?
Why It Matters
A casual student-level dancer who has lost their mojo can easily take a step back. But when you’re a professional or aspiring pro, you need to bring your A game to the stage even when you’re not feeling it.
No one wants to work with a dancer who either backs out at the last minute all the time, or regularly brings a lackluster performance to the stage.
So let’s look at a few causes of lost mojo, and some ideas of how to solve them.
Nothing saps your energy faster than being overworked. Many dancers are juggling a day job, family commitments, dance classes (as teachers or as students), and performance obligations. Others are pursuing their degree, running another business, or struggling with a chronic illness.
To combat this problem, try to avoid over-committing yourself. I find that nothing drains my will to dance faster than having foolishly agreed to a bunch of performances during a busy time in my life. When offered a performance or teaching opportunity, do a pros and cons list and see if the benefits outweigh the potential drain on your energy. Do you feel excited for the opportunity, or obligated to pursue it for external reasons (money, because you like the person who asked you, because it’s been a while since you danced in that venue, whatever).
One of my favorite phrases that I’ve ever heard is “No is a complete sentence.” Don’t be afraid to just say no to opportunities that will suck you dry!
If you live in a part of the world where everything closes down for the summer, you may be coming into your slow season now. With classes on hiatus and less performance opportunities, it’s easy to fall into a lull — especially if you’re not traveling for festivals.
In times like this, it’s good to set your own goals rather than relying on outside factors to set your goals for you. Now is a great time to work on a new choreography for your next class session, or learn a new dance skill, or really drill down on one area of your dance that you really want to improve.
Instead of feeling depressed that you “have nothing to work towards”, see it instead as freedom. You can work on whatever you want! The hard part may be deciding what to work on first!
A General Sense of the Blahs
I suffer from this one a lot. Sometimes when life isn’t going my way, I just feel totally blah. Even if I have some great dance opportunities coming up, I may not feel excited about them.
For some people this can be a sign of depression or other issues. If your “blahs” are oppressive and persistent, they’re outside the scope of my humble blog. Please seek a professional diagnosis and course of treatment.
But if your blahs are of the more fleeting type, you’ve got to just push through them. I find that journaling really helps me get to the root of what has sapped my mojo and will to dance. Other, more extraverted, dancers may find that they benefit more from talking the problem through with someone — whether it’s a therapist, a fellow dancer, or just a loved one who is good at listening and problem-solving.
Oftentimes the blahs are a sign that you need to shake things up. Sometimes it means making a change to your dance life (leaving a class that isn’t serving you, practicing at a different time of day, just buying new music). But the blahs about dance can also be a manifestation of dissatisfaction about some other area of your life — it may be a body image issue, or maybe you’re having a hard time practicing because the house is a mess, or because you’ve had poor sleep hygiene and you’re just exhausted.
The worst things that steal your mojo are illness, injury, and tragedy. Sometimes you have a huge obstacle to overcome, and in those times, it may take longer to get your mojo back. This is when you might actually have to cancel classes and performances.
If possible, when life steals your mojo, try to arrange for someone to cover you. It’s good professional behavior and will help mitigate the damage to your reputation as a pro. After all, we’re all only human, and everyone has had to take a step back at some point. How you handle it makes all the difference.
When you’re ready to re-enter the world of dance after recovering, ease yourself into it. Let the community know that you’re coming back, and be a bit gradual about it. If you were teaching classes 3x a week, you might want to start with 1 class and bring the other two back a month later. You may want to have a hafla as your first performance after coming back, instead of jumping in feet first with a full set to live music at the nicest restaurant in town.
The big key to getting your mojo back is having compassion with yourself. Oftentimes the reasons why we struggle to get inspired are things beyond our control. Acknowledge that, find the best way to get through, and know that it really does happen to everyone.