Results of a recent study published in the journal Psychological Bulletin found that millennials are the generation most predisposed to perfectionism. Factor in a serious study of ballet—constantly critiquing your movements in the mirror and dealing with strict instructors and talented competition—and you've only upped the ante.


So why is the present generation at risk of falling into the perfectionist trap? The study pinpoints increasing competitiveness, pressure to find high-paying jobs and heavy social media usage as possible reasons. While striving for excellence is a well-intentioned goal, if that behavior turns obsessive, it can be detrimental to your well-being and overall enjoyment of dance. Here's how to avoid three common pitfalls of perfectionism:

Set Incremental Goals for Yourself

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Instead of comparing your achievements to other dancers'

Try channeling that energy into smaller-scale goals you set for yourself, like adding another revolution to your pirouettes.

Trade Screen Time for Face Time

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Instead of using free time to gush over seemingly perfect dancers on Instagram

Try limiting your daily social media usage. Spend some of that time connecting with your friends face-to-face, outside of the studio.

Recognize Your Own Achievements

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Instead of telling yourself you're not as talented as everyone else

Try recognizing personal accomplishments and allowing yourself to feel proud.

News
Boston Ballet's Kathleen Breen Combes, María Álvarez and Dawn Atkins. Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow.

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Ballet Stars
Alexandra MacDonald (front row, third from left) didn't win a medal at the Genée International Ballet Competition, but says she came home inspired and newly motivated by the people she met there. Photo Courtesy Genée IBC.

Ballet competitions are an exciting part of any dancer's career. Yet while scholarships, prize money, job offers and the prestige that comes with winning a medal are compelling incentives to participate in one, they're not the only benefits. In fact, many dancers who go home empty-handed still look fondly on the experience and go on to become successful professionals.

This week, the 2019 Genée International Ballet Competition kicks off in Toronto. From August 20-29, over 50 dancers, ages 15–19 and trained in the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus, will perform three solos in the hopes of winning a medal and a $10,000 cash prize. Many past medalists have gone on to illustrious careers—but so have those who didn't win anything. We spoke with three Genée alumni now dancing professionally who know what it's like not to place. Read on to find out why they deem their comp experiences a success, and how you can make the most of yours—whether you win or not.

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Ballet Stars
Skylar Brandt and Josephine Lee. Screenshot Courtesy Lee.

Master pointe shoe fitter Josephine Lee of the California-based ThePointeShop chats with American Ballet Theatre soloist Skylar Brandt to hear about how she prepares her pointe shoes. We think Brandt might win an award for how long she makes her shoes last; watch the below video for the staggering number of days (or weeks!), and to hear about all of her unique customizations and pro tips.

Courtesy Chiara Valle

Chiara Valle is just one of many dancers heading back to the studio this fall as companies ramp up for the season. But her journey back has been far more difficult than most.

Valle has been a trainee at The Washington Ballet since 2016, starting at the same time as artistic director Julie Kent. But only a few months into her first season there, she started experiencing excruciating pain high up in her femur. "It felt like someone was stabbing me 24/7," she says. Sometimes at night, the pain got so bad that her roommates would bring her dinner to the bathtub.

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