Dancing through business – Sally Ilsley

From bountiful ballet teacher to business enthusiast…. I won’t use the word ‘entrepreneur’ as it implies that I’m discovering something world-shatteringly new & let’s be honest most of us are just polishing a concept we already know!

Here are just some of the things I’ve drawn upon from Ballroom to Treading the Boards to the Boardroom.

Give in to creativity…yes, it wasn’t always given the kudos it deserved on your school timetable; squeezed in between triple science and maths to tick a box for the arts but without creative courage where does your vision or business ideas come from?

From how you see your business logo, your office layout, your company colours, dress code, email signature, how your reward your customers loyalty, how you find solutions to overcome issues, creativity is the spark that brings your ambitions to life.

If you’re in business – trust me, you’re a creative (you lucky things!) 

You must endure intensive rehearsals to prepare for a successful opening night…you might be the ‘star of the show’ but even artistes have to mentally and physically prepare…. this is where you can make mistakes, evolve and re-hash your material without fear of judgement to get the best performance.

Overnight success seldom occurs so be proud of your years of dedication, training, education, and sacrifice before you reap the benefits of your hard graft. 

Reviews are a necessary evil – sometimes they’ll sing your praises and sometimes they’ll tear you apart…but ultimately you must get back on your feet, believe in your role and bloody get on with it.

Have an understudy – no ‘star’ wants to disappoint their public, but if we’ve learnt anything in the last few years it’s that life can take that choice away from us. So, share the responsibility with a trusted ‘understudy’ and it will also give them the chance to step up & shine in your absence.

A good show needs a fabulous chorus to bring it to life – so invest your time & energy into auditioning the best people you can have to elevate the performance. Your troupe will follow your lead, so demonstrate humility, respect and strive to be best version you can to inspire them and keep your company harmonious.

Stage fright is something you can overcome – whether it’s a wobble or full-on panic attack before your presentation, you can take control of the feeling of dread. Fear is just excitement without breathing properly, right?

So, take your moment in the wings/car/staff room/under the desk and just breathe…. breathe again and then breathe once more.  Then close your eyes and visualise you in the spotlight presenting your Oscar worthy performance.  It’s what I call the final (mental) rehearsal and then use your adrenaline to power you up a level.  

The true star of the show is the audience – everything you do is for the enjoyment of your audience and if you win them over its the best feeling in the world. Capture their attention, throw out great energy and let them see your love for what you’re doing. Your enthusiasm will be infectious and trust me if you give it all you’ve got, mistakes will be overlooked.

Everything I do in business is always lead by the experience I want to evoke; how do they want to feel, how can I leave a lasting impression, how can I create a magic or what I like to call the ‘Disney-effect’? It’s all pink and haze in musical theatre darling, and it works a treat!

The Show Must Go On……. however desperate things become, whatever injuries are sustained or cast dropouts, you must keep your focus to ensure the show goes ahead as planned.  It will feel insurmountable at first, but I promise you, you will get through it and have your (well-deserved) moment.  I love a deadline!

You may be award-winning and over-flowing with accolades, but this is the moment to be gracious enough to look beyond the hype and continue to be the student. Learning from others and a curiosity in your art form will keep your performance fresh and current.

The crew is crucial and whilst they prefer their behind-the-scenes role, operating in a stealth-like manner (mainly in the dark!) they are wholly responsible for keeping you lit up at the key moment. They don’t like a fuss, but they do need to feel valued; they are happy for you to take the spotlight so treat them like the superstars they are and reward their skills and experience.

Dancers train for years with blood, sweat and tears ever-present; they face rejection, competitiveness, judgement, tedious repetitive exercises, several moments of confidence crises, knock-backs, pressure, last minute changes and tantrums and yet…what emerges like a majestic swan is the most awe-inspiring, dedicated, loyal, resilient, hardworking, adaptable, classy individual who is an absolute asset in any business arena.

Sally works across a number of industries as an ambitious business owner; Property, Performing Arts and Hospitality & Events.