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The Training Ground: How does a professional dancer prepare for a performance?

The Training Ground: How does a professional dancer prepare for performance
The Training Ground is a series that dives into the mental, physical, and emotional journey needed to prepare for a competition or performance, athletic or otherwise. Meet professional dancer Austin Sora.

After my Fitness Served Cold series, I wanted to continue documenting stories within the health and fitness realm, but with a different twist.

I’ve always been fascinated with the journey behind the preparation by athletes and performers.  And that’s what I want to focus on in my new ongoing series called The Training Ground. It will dive into the mental, physical, and emotional journey needed to prepare for a competition or performance, athletic or otherwise. 

The Training Ground will be about more than just sports. Every competitor or performer has their own training montage documenting their journey of how they got to where they are; what they had to sacrifice; how they had to push themselves to achieve success. That’s what this series is about — the blood, the sweat and the tears. 

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I want to feature guests from the sports world and beyond, men and women who have experienced success and failure. You will learn how they face adversity, how they prepare their bodies and minds for competition or performance, how they celebrate victory and manage defeat.

Think of the famous quote by Teddy Roosevelt, from which I’ll paraphrase: ‘It is not the critic who counts … the credit belongs to the man (woman) who is actually in the arena … if he/she fails, at least he/she fails while daring greatly, so that his/her place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.’

The first episode that you can watch above delves into the life and career of Austin Sora, a professional dancer. I want these episodes to also shed some light on occupations and activities that I’m not familiar with — if you’ve ever seen me at a wedding, dance definitely fits into that category.

And even though she is a professional dancer, at the pinnacle of her career, having recently completed a role with the touring production of the Phantom of the Opera, Austin has faced adversity and rejection.

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Of all the stories she told me during our 25-minute interview, I was most struck by her last one. In fact, we had stopped recording when she mentioned she had one more story to share. And I’m glad she did!

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Austin was accepted into the National Ballet School of Canada when she was 10 years old. But she was removed from the school two years later because her knees didn’t hyper-extend properly when she danced. Read that again.

It had nothing to do with her ability or her performance — it was purely an aesthetic decision. It was a crushing blow to her confidence, but she persevered and kept pursuing her dreams.

These are the type of inspirational stories I will share with this series.

Mike Arsenault is a reporter with Global News and cohost of Global News Weekend, available Saturdays and Sundays 7-10 a.m. ET on the Global News App.