Risky Business

A Dancer's View

Catalyst Dance blog series offering the dancer's view into the research and development of "A Port in the Storm" premiering July 2nd, 2015 at The Mansion in Vancouver, Canada

Risky Business

By Melissa Panetta

Melissa Panetta by Michael Higgins

Melissa Panetta by Michael Higgins

Is dance really a business? Can you support yourself only though dancing? Will others around you make judgments based on your career choice? These questions all came up during one of our rehearsal sessions with director of Catalyst, Desirée Dunbar. Each week she has the six dancers participate in various mental, physical, and emotional activities creating an atmosphere full of new discoveries and experiences. Thinking back to the multiple rehearsals we had as a group, there is one particular exercise that remains by far on the top of my list.

Desirée asked everyone to get their notebook and draw two circles, one representing limiting beliefs and one for empowering beliefs. Each of us began to write sayings, thoughts, or feelings that arose in our mind in the limiting beliefs circle. After we collected our thoughts we picked three sayings that stood out to us. For example mine were as follows,

"So many people can do what I do, why am I special?"

"There are so many negative judgements towards what I do"

"Not being stable to support myself"

We then had to ask ourselves are these thoughts really true or are they just fears we encounter.  Under each main point, we came up with three reasons why this question or statement was not true and wrote those reasons in the empowering belief circle. Completing this mental exercise really helped clear all the negative thoughts and feelings I had about my choices in life as a dancer and artist. Personally, this is an area where I struggle. I know dance can sometimes be a risky and hard career choice but for me it’s the only option. I knew I wanted to be a professional dancer the day I stepped into my first ballet class, but I never knew how or if I could really do it. The fear of not having a set plan and trusting my instincts is always going to be in the back of my mind, but I feel like I now have the understanding and power to overcome these mental struggles.


Over the past couple months with the help of Catalyst I have redirected my thinking of who I am as an artist. I now look at this whole dance aspiration as a business, rather than just my passion or a crazy dream. Don’t get me wrong it will always be my passion, but in order to be successful you need to think like an entrepreneur. You as the artist are the product. Your demo reel, artist statement, and any time you step into the community is a way of promoting yourself. I believe that having a mindset like this one will prepare me for anything that comes in the future. I look forward to the unknown opportunities that lie ahead, and will conquer fear one step at a time.

Melissa, originally from Toronto, is a fourth year dance major and Kiniesiology minor at Simon Fraser University and a dancer with Catalyst.  She guides students into optimal performance in the Dezza Dance Bootcamp.