Gemma Uprichard has spent a huge chunk of her life dancing and her obvious passion and dedication has evidently shaped the person she is today. Gemma shares how she thinks her years of dance experience has helped ease her transition into the PR world. Take it away, Gemma!
Having spent nearly 17 of my 21 years on this earth - training, competing, and performing, I think it would only be fair to say that, for me, the studio and the stage are my second homes. The lessons you unknowingly learn growing up through dancing have ended up being some of the most valuable and helpful lessons I’ve ever learned.
While it can be hard to find the common denominator between getting the perfect epaulement in your port de bras and drafting the perfect press release, I promise there are a few. So, let’s get into it…
Six Lessons I’ve learnt through dancing that help me in my current career:
1. Use criticism to your advantage.
In dance, it’s inevitable that you’re going to be criticised—a lot! Some are constructive and some are a tad dance mom-esque, but one thing I learned early on is not to take it personally. Blocking out the negative remarks and connotations and focusing on fixing those corrections so you don’t get them again is the best possible way you can improve, and the same goes in the world of work. Corrections and constructive criticism are the only ways you’re ever going to get better, and someone taking it upon themselves to do that is to help you become the best you can be.
2. There is no substitute for hard work.
‘Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.’ The saying applies to dancing as well as your career choice. You can have all the natural ability in the world, but if you’re lazy, you’re just never going to quite get there. At 21 years old, I’m still trying to perfect the steps I learned at the ripe age of four - dancers, you know the struggle of the constant need for more turnout (it hurts a lot more now than it did at that age). In your career, you can be forgiven a mistake or two, but will anyone ever blame you for working hard and trying your best to improve? I don’t think so.
3. Simply be nice.
The PR world, just like the dance world, is small, so be nice. I always think of the saying “Those you meet on your way up will be the same you meet on your way down.” You might never become a professional dancer or the manager of a leading PR firm, but being known as a kind, decent person is a good legacy to leave behind. Be grateful to the people who give you the same energy back, and find any opportunity to pass it on. You never know how much simply being polite can help you in the long run. So basically, don’t be a dick.
4. Cherish your community.
Dance taught me the importance of having a good community culture. The other dancers in your group, studio, or class are the only people who can honestly understand what you’re going through in that moment. In a sport as competitive as dancing, having that to fall back on is necessary to keep morale high.
The exact same goes for the corporate world. Luckily for me, Clearbox’s work culture is even better than I imagined. Knowing that I have the most generous, talented people I know, who are teaching me and being there to help when I make a mistake, is the exact level of security in your community we all need to experience.
5. Be creative.
While dancing and PR explore different types of creativity, both complement each other. When it comes to dance, you’re taught that the more creative you are, the better. Whether that be with costumes or choreography, everybody wants to see something new and original. The same goes with PR campaigns, whether it be the design of social media posts or a PR stunt—fresh and creative is always better. Sometimes you’re even able to combine both. Did someone say flashmob? Sign me up.
6. Be passionate.
I know many people disagree with this one and say that you should only work to live and your hobby should be your passion, but why can you not be passionate about both?
My favourite lesson that dance has taught me is to always give 110% if you want to succeed at anything. Performances look better with more passion and effort, and so does your work! For example, there is a clear difference in a press release that you’ve put no real effort or thought into compared to one that you’ve really taken the time and interest to make it the best it possibly can be (everyone still has those moments of low effort; don’t worry!)