Advice for Dancers: Former New York City Ballet Dancer Linda Hamilton, Ph.D., Is a Lecturer, a Psychologist in Private Practice, and the Author of Advice for Dancers (Jossey-Bass). She Has Been Offering Advice to Dance Magazine Readers since 1992

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All I ever wanted was to get accepted into a major professional school that's affiliated with a company, now that it's happened, I'm sure they've made a terrible mistake. Why did I pass the audition? My parents don't take my dancing seriously. They just want me to dance for fun and concentrate on getting god grades so I can go to a good college. If I fail to do well in this dance school, my dream of getting into a dance company is over.--Jinxed Dancer Bronxville, NY

In case you've forgotten, you just received good news. Why not enjoy it? While it's normal to get antsy before starting a demanding training program, most dancers settle down once they meet their new teachers and develop a routine. Still, self-doubt can linger without parental support, so it might help to let your family know that going to a professional school doesn't prevent you from attending college. Also, remember: professional training programs have their pick of talented dancers. Practice stress management by telling yourself, "I can do this!" The trick, of course, is to believe it. You can break your negative thinking by asking yourself what you'd say to your best friend--then say it to yourself.

I guess I'm lucky because my artistic director isn't a tyrant. My major complaint is that he tends to get caught up in the flavor of the month. I feel like I've been pushed aside for the upcoming season, with only a few good roles coming my way. How do I stay inspired if I can't inspire him?--Forlorn Star, NY, NY

All performers not only need to be good at what they do, but also to please directors, dance critics, and choreographers in order to succeed. Yet putting your self-esteem in the hands of others leaves you vulnerable, especially if they are ignoring you. Rather than feeling down, discover inspiration within yourself, so that when you perform, you pay attention to what gives you satisfaction. Don't let your boss--or your critics-come between you and your audience.

I'm a hard-core dance lover who experiences awe whenever a performer defies the laws of gravity. The best dancers perform amazing feats that look effortless. The production also seems to go smoothly watching from the audience, although who knows what happens behind the scenes, what is it like when there's a real emergency? …