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 6 Leadership Skills Students Learn From the Performing Arts

The Disney Imagination Campus team
by The Disney Imagination Campus team

Those who have ever participated in activities like marching band, orchestra, dance or theatre all know that it takes a lot of skills to be successful in the performing arts. As a performer, you learn much more than just how to march in formation, interpret a script or how to play a C#.

Here are 6 important leadership skills students learn from participating in the performing arts that can be applied to many roles and careers – even outside of the performing arts.

1. Persistence

The performing arts are all about persistence and timing.

Sometimes it can take three or more auditions to get to where you want to be as a performer. At the end of each audition you may think, “this is my time,” and then not receive the role because they didn’t need your height range or body size at the time for the roles they were asking for.

Each time you make it through the audition you learn something new. Each and every role you have, no matter how “irrelevant” it may seem at the time, prepares you in some way.

As a performer, it takes persistence to stay positive and continue to strive for your goals even when things get difficult. This determination is an important skill that is relevant to any leadership position.

2. Giving and Receiving Feedback

Knowing how to receive feedback well is a difficult skill to learn, but one that performers need to practice on a regular basis. In the performing arts, you are challenged to receive constructive feedback without taking it personally. Oftentimes, performers need to interpret and apply feedback quickly to alter their interpretation of a role in the moment. This quick reception of feedback and flexibility in performance is extremely useful in almost any role where feedback is given to improve your performance.  

Learning how to give feedback is equally as important as receiving it. Learning how to give feedback will help you to lead and instill trust in others.

3. Quick Thinking

Improvisation is not just a skill that is useful in the performing arts to devise a creative sketch or tune.

Being able to think fast on your feet and be present in the moment is something that is transferrable across many different leadership roles.

4. Preparation

Preparation and a good warm up will set you up for success – no matter what role you are in.

A skilled performer does not wait till the day of their audition to put in the prep work. If you have done the prep work far enough in advance to prepare your monologue or song, you’ll feel confident and show ready even before you walk onto the stage.

All you will need is a quick warm up before your performance to prepare your mind and body.

Knowing what your body and mind need to warm up every day is something that is useful no matter what field you are in. Performers excel in putting in the prep work to be mentally and physically prepared for the day’s events.

5. Self-Confidence

Training in the performing arts can instill a sense of discipline and confidence that can transition into being a leader.

The entertainment industry is difficult because you see so many talented people and may begin to doubt yourself. It challenges you to be confident in yourself, your craft and what you are going to pursue to make the best of it. You have to trust your own gut and pursue what your heart wants so that your confidence and passion shine through.

Whether those roots started by practicing posture and poise in ballet, tone in choir or rhythm in orchestra, the discipline practiced to gain confidence in your skills can apply as a leader in many areas of life.

6. Active Listening

One of the best skills a leader can have is their ability to be a good listener.

In performance, much of your work relies on what is happening around you. Listening is essential to build a relationship with other characters in your scene or to make sure you hit your cue for your entrance.

As active listeners, performers are building skills that make them better leaders who attend to the concerns of their team

The performing arts prepares students to do more than just act, dance or play an instrument. The leadership abilities that performers learn are important life skills that can be applied across many opportunities and disciplines.

Interested in learning more about Disney Performing Arts? Check out our workshops, where your students can learn theater, vocal, music, and dance techniques from a Disney teaching artist. And, be sure to sign up for our e-newsletter for the latest news and updates!

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