Learning to master the aerial arts can be among the most exciting and rewarding paths in a person’s life. It’s a pursuit that requires dedicated effort, and having a mentor can make the growing process that much more special.
A mentor/mentee relationship is a little different than a traditional teacher/student scenario. You might be a little closer to your mentor or mentee than you would be with a teacher in a class.
Aerial arts are a relatively new art form, but its skills and knowledge are passed just like all the performing arts: from person to person over time. Finding someone with the right expertise and skill set is imperative. Mentorship isn't just limited to performing arts - mentors can help you to start your dream yoga studio, become a well known instructor, or even your best version of you.
There may be career mentorship involved, where the mentor can guide you into your dream job and show you the ropes...not just literally but also in terms of getting your foot in the door, picking up on etiquette, and sharpening skills. You may even find yourself performing at one of your mentor’s gigs right along with her.
Of course, some mentors may not be wild about sharing the ins and outs of the industry. In that case, it’s fine to just let things lie.
If you're looking for an aerial mentor, it's a good idea to try out a variety of classes with different instructors to try and find someone whose style fits your aspirations. Become a regular student, and you may find that the relationship will form naturally with time.
Mentorships can be formalized, or they can be more casual. It all depends on who you are working with.
Sometimes, despite the best of intentions, a learning relationship may become blurred. It’s important to set healthy boundaries from the beginning of a mentor/mentee relationship so that the expectations are clear and everyone knows what will be involved.
As an aerial instructor, you might have discovered the rewarding journey of witnessing students grow over time. Perhaps there are one or two who stick around a little longer after class. You may already be mentoring without really knowing it!
If you are open to it, this might be a good idea to ask about your student’s hopes and what they are after.
Get to know your mentee with a genuine interest and become willing to listen. When there is something to acknowledge, be sure to congratulate! Passing it forward can be a rewarding and fulfilling role.
Mentorship may not be for everyone, but it is a definite way to grow your skills as an aerialist and as a human being.
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