Image by Margareta Belančić


This section is a learning resource to better identify and articulate your practice in relation to soft skills and to help you draw out some of the important skills you have. It is an opportunity to look at your skills through a new lense and to recognise qualities emerging through your dance practice, which you may not typically give focus to.

Relating to soft skills in your practice is a dialogue between skills that organically show up due to your personal attributes and artistic interests, as well as an identification of the skills you want to specifically engage with.

There may be some skills that are at the core of your practice (such as taking care and attention to listening), while other skills come specifically into play depending on the context, conditions or people you are working with.

Context plays an important role in the soft skills you give focus to in your practice. This can include:

  • The particular dance language you are using with a group
  • The reasons the participants choose to engage in your project
  • The ways in which you guide and facilitate
  • The location the group is gathering in
  • The composition of the group (for example, backgrounds, ages, health condition, experience)
  • If there is an outcome to your journey together, such as a performance.

It is important to relate the soft skills that you resonate with personally in your practice to the actual needs of the people you engage with. You will have a chance to reflect about context in relation to soft skills in the following tasks. If you would like some examples of context before the reflective task, click here to read more.

Here are a few examples of the crucial relationship between soft skills, the setting and the people involved:

  • Working with people dealing with forced migration - depending on the needs of the participants you will activate specific soft skills to address those needs. Skills that could come into the foreground are identifying emotions, co-operation, perseverance, appreciating differences and managing risk. Due to the more vulnerable and traumatic experiences people might be carrying, more focus may be placed on taking care, as well as creating a sense of belonging and community building. Through this sensitivity and awareness, it also may be discovered that additional therapeutic support is needed in areas of trauma.
  • Working with people who have chronic illness - while engaging with dance and people who are navigating illness, you may find yourself being sensitive to forms of risk-taking so that self-confidence and courage can grow while exploring new pathways for movement. Greater attention may be given to supporting self-efficacy with the aim towards enhancing one's quality of life through various dance approaches.
  • Making a performance - through the creative process of making a dance piece, you may engage in various improvisational tasks gradually leading into choice-making while defining and shaping the show. This journey can open up new ways to think, stimulating adaptability, flexibility, creativity and critical thinking. Additional soft skills that may show up while working towards the premiere include goal setting, managing stress, dealing with uncertainty, co-operation and self-discipline.
  • Working in a school setting – through dialogue with the teachers you may discover the key needs for a particular class setting lean more towards supporting social and emotional skills, such as co-operation, teamwork, listening to others and understanding and appreciating differences.

Let’s Turn to Your Body

Here is an audio guide to provide you with a moment of embodied processing in relation to the theme of the chapter.

Reflective Task

Your top 3 (now)

You will need something to write on.

Following are some questions to help you identify the soft skills you inherently work with, as well as skills you want to further enhance in your dance practice and people you are working with. Since your top 3 soft skills may shift over time, depending on your interests, dance participants or context, you may wish to return to this task multiple times. The repetition could help you recognize how and why you emphasise different soft skills in various settings:

Take a look at the soft skills map:

  • What skills most stand out for you and why?
  • Which 3 feel most important to you and why?
  • Once you have identified those, try to list everything in your dance work that contributes to practising those skills.

Examples: If taking care is one you selected, what are all the ways you bring attention to that, ranging from tender physical tasks to considering the arrival experience of your participants.

Or if you selected self-confidence, what are the ways you bring a participant into an awareness of their abilities and what they are capable of? Such as, offering tasks and choreography that challenges them, having them perform for their colleagues in the group, or affirming their creativity in how they respond to a choreographic task.

When you list everything in your practice that contributes to practising these skills, you will notice that the specific context you are working in will prompt you to nurture these skills in particular ways.

  • Complete this sentence:
    When I [ _____*], the most important soft skills for me are [ _____ ].
    *lead a workshop, start a new group, speak with collaborators, etc.
  • Pick one of these skills and explain in a few sentences why that skill is important to the particular context you chose.
  • Soft skills rarely exist individually. They are often interlinked with other soft skills. What other soft skills would you need to help you feel confident in the setting you chose?
  • Think about the people you are working with. What soft skills would you also like to support their growth in?

Now that you have identified the soft skills you are most attracted to, what about those that feel furthest away from your top selection? Are there some soft skills that you skip over or feel less attracted to? Is it because they are less central to a specific context or that perhaps you feel less equipped to engage with them?

  • Take a moment to write about a soft skill on the map that feels most foreign to you and write about it as if it is the one you are most passionate about. What aspects of your dance practice are already dealing with this soft skill? How might you develop a new task for your next dance class, workshop or rehearsal in order to embody and discover this lesser known soft skill from a new perspective?

Video - Your top 3 (now) in practice

Here you can follow two examples of how Giovanna Garzotto responded to the previous reflective task – Your top 3 (now).

Giovanna is a Dance Well teacher. Dance Well is an Empowering Dance case study, which focuses on movement research for Parkinson’s Disease.

Reflective Task

What is the body of your practice?

Here is a tool that uses the metaphor of the body to guide you through various aspects of your practice. You can apply it to how you define your overall artistic practice or zoom in on various contexts, such as when you offer workshops or make a work.

Mapping your practice in this way can help make various elements more visible, which you may not have considered yet. Once those aspects come more into focus, they can provide a clearer foundation from which to think about the soft skills that are most significant to you. As that takes shape, it can then support you in identifying and activating soft skills with your dance participants and collaborators.

You can listen to the audio recording below or click here to follow the tool in written form.

What is the body of your practice?
What are the eyes –
The vision of the long term or the attention to details in the room
Does your practice have a goal or destination on the horizon?
Or does your practice look infinitely inwards to the details of where you are now?

What are the hands –
What are you trying to grasp with your practice?
What are the ideas you touch on in your practice;
The technique or tools you handle;
The physical state you are trying to reach to?

What are the feet –
What does the practice stand on? What is the base of your practice?
What knowledge or experience brought you to here?
Where are you planning to go?

What are the lungs –
Taking control of your breath or letting go of the breath of your practice?
What tools do you have to both take control or let go of control of what's happening in the room or in your practice?

What is the tongue –
What is the language used? Technical, abstract, metaphoric?
What is the history of that language? Who speaks this language?
Who understands it? Who has access to this language?

What is the spine of your practice –
Many parts stacked one on top of the other
All moving and reacting to each other in harmony or opposition;
What is the history or culture of your practice;
The experiences stacked one on top of each other that have moved you towards this practice?

What is the heart of your practice –
Does your practice bring a calm heart?
A steady heart?
An excited warm heart?
A raging heart?
What is the pulse?
How does it keep the rest of your practice alive?
What emotions are involved in your practice?
Or how does your practice deal with emotions when they arise?
How does your practice open?
How does your practice close?

What is the body of your practice?

Ples prijatelja by Margareta Belančić

Click here to learn more about the visual contributions.

What are you practising?

Here is a card game to either play on your own or with others. If you play on your own, it is a way to self reflect on the soft skills living in your practice. If you play with others (i.e. your dance participants, colleagues, collaborators), it is a way to trigger discussion about the soft skills being practised and to voice what softs skills one is attracted to and why.

You can engage with the game at any time. For example, you can bring the cards into the studio and use them following an extended improvisation session, after a week of intensive rehearsals, or before a team meeting to discover the values and interests of your collaborators.

Card Game: What are you practising?


  1. Print and cut out the cards provided, including the blank cards.
  2. Lay out the cards with the text visible.

Let’s Play

  1. Take several blank cards and write down one aspect of what you are practising on each card. Try to be concrete and specific. When dancing, leading dance or making artistic work, what are you practising? Is there one specific action or intention that you want to highlight?
    The word ‘practice’ in this context refers to the activities you do during your dance work and the intentions you bring to those activities, especially when working with others. You may want to think of what you are practising in terms of qualities or skills that you bring to tasks, as well as the direction and goal.
  2. Add your newly written cards to the other cards already laid out. Spread them out so all the words are visible.
  3. Each participant takes 4 cards: 2 that you feel connected to and passionate about that you are already practising, 2 that you are attracted to and want to develop. If you see a card someone else picks and you like it a lot, you can duplicate it on a blank card and keep it.
  4. Once the cards have been selected, you can move into reflecting on the cards chosen and why. Think about how you may want to document what emerges – perhaps a photograph of the cards, or you can roll out a large sheet of paper for everyone to write on, or simply take notes for yourself to return to later.

Round 1: Each person shares which 2 cards they chose for what they are already practising and feel passionate about.

Here are a few questions to support the reflection process:

  • Did you pick newly written cards or those that were pre-printed? Why did you pick those cards?
  • Can you give examples from your practice or dance experience that demonstrates how you activate what is on the card?
  • How might you relate the way you practice it in the studio to other areas of your life?

Round 2: Each person shares which 2 cards they chose for what they are attracted to and wish to further develop.

Here are a few questions to support the reflection process:

  • In what scenarios do you need this skill/practice in?
    • You may like to create a storyboard imagining the scenarios where you’ll need this skill/practice. What comes up for you doing that? Can you see your way through the scenario now? What will you need to focus on to successfully get through this scenario?
  • What are you missing to feel confident in that?
  • What is getting in your way?
    • How might you address these blocks? Can you write a diary? Can you invite other dance artists or another trusted person from another profession to listen to you?
  • Why is this important to you?