The Good Kind of Jealousy—and How It Can Help Your Dancing

One time or another, we've all felt jealous of that dancer who seems to do no wrong: Her lines are perfect, she's quick to pick up new combinations and the teacher loves her. Usually we're told that feeling envious will only hurt us, and in many cases that's exactly what happens—jealousy tends to bring us down. 

As it turns out, though, the science of envy may not be that clear-cut. A psychologist from Tilburg University in the Netherlands who's studied the emotion identifies two types of envy:

1. Malicious envy is what we usually think of when the word comes to mind, and yes, it is often destructive and unproductive.
2. Benign envy, on the other hand, looks more similar to admiration—it involves fewer negative thoughts about the envied person, and is more likely to drive you to work harder towards your goals and change things for the better. In fact, the same psychologist found that benign envy is actually more motivating than admiration. 


In a competitive world like ballet, sometimes you can't help but feel a little envious. Next time you find yourself wishing you could execute a turn sequence like your talented classmate, try using that energy as fuel to think about how you can improve your own technique. And better yet: Why not ask her what her secret is? You might even make a new friend while you're at it. 

Latest Posts


Left to right: Dance Theatre of Harlem's Daphne Lee, Amanda Smith, Lindsey Donnell and Alexandra Hutchinson in a scene from Dancing Through Harlem. Derek Brockington, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dancers Share Their Key Takeaways After a Year of Dancing on Film

Creating dances specifically for film has become one of the most effective ways that ballet companies have connected with audiences and kept dancers employed during the pandemic. Around the world, dance organizations are finding opportunities through digital seasons, whether conceiving cinematic, site-specific pieces or filming works within a traditional theater. And while there is a consistent sentiment that nothing will ever substitute the thrill of a live show, dancers are embracing this new way of performing.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

#TBT: Mikhail Baryshnikov in "Fancy Free" (1981)

In Jerome Robbins's 1944 ballet Fancy Free, three sailors on leave spend the day at a bar, attempting to woo two young women by out-dancing and out-charming one another. In this clip from 1981, Mikhail Baryshnikov, who was then both the artistic director of American Ballet Theatre and a leading performer with the company, pulls out all the stops to win the ladies' affections.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Bethany Kirby, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

An Infectious-Disease Physician on What Vaccines Mean for Ballet

As the coronavirus pandemic grinds into its second year, the toll on ballet companies—and dancers—has been steep. How long before dancers can rehearse and perform as they once did?

Like most things, the return to normal for ballet seems to hinge on vaccinations. Just over 22 percent of people in the U.S. are now vaccinated, a way from the estimated 70 to 85 percent experts believe can bring back something similar to pre-pandemic life.

But what would it mean for 100 percent of a ballet company to be vaccinated? Tulsa Ballet artistic director Marcello Angelini is about to find out—and hopes it brings the return of big ballets on the big stage.

"I don't think companies like ours can survive doing work for eight dancers in masks," Angelini says. "If we want to work, dance, and be in front of an audience consistently and with the large works that pay the bills, immunization is the only road that leads there."

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks