Tijana Selak | Edition Four
How did you get into your line of work?
I’ve been a dancer all my life so I feel like it was a matter of time before I created a career for myself. It’s been my passion for as long as I can remember. Along with that another passion has always been helping people and being a positive influence. I’m the oldest of three kids in my family so I was a natural born leader. I’m used to having people rely on me and I love being able to be the one that can help people grow as individuals. I just got to a point in my life where I wasn’t satisfied and felt like I was in a routine that wasn’t allowing me to reach my full potential or allowing me to propel forward in my own life. I first started off teaching casual classes to a few people then eventually wanted to invest myself 100% into the company and created it from scratch. Nothing makes me happier than making others happy, I’m so thankful to be able to have so many students who keep me motivated and push me. I really do believe I have the best job ever. It’s the most gratifying feeling being able to share my passion with others while also guiding them through life and seeing their personal progress.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I say this all the time, but my students, they make it so worth it. Even on my worst days when I don’t feel like getting out of bed or when I’m feeling overwhelmed or exhausted, they are the ones who motivate me to do what I do. Hero Dance Company now has had over 400 registration forms since I started it in 2017, which blows my mind. I am so grateful for the constant growth and the amazing people who come through our studio doors. Having that many students that can trust and count on me really pushes me to be the best version of myself. Whenever someone asks me what my favourite part of my job is, I instantly say my students because their growth, passion and love that they share for one another is so amazing to experience. I’m so happy to be able to provide this safe environment for them all to come be themselves and feel at home. Seeing them mature and build their confidence is so rewarding. It really is like a family. I invest so much energy into each student and love being able to be a part of their journey.
Where do your ideas/creativity evolve from?
I’m still trying to find myself within the creative world. I am constantly evolving and trying to push myself. I never really considered myself creative, I would always have ideas in my head but never went through with them. It’s epic being able to have dancers now who can help me make my ideas and visions into a reality. A large amount of my ideas purely come from music, the way I interpret certain songs or how they make me feel. Movies give me ideas a lot too, if I see a certain theme or mood then I can build on that. A lot of the time I just wing it and go with the flow and allow myself the time to progress. I don’t watch many dance videos online because sometimes that can overshadow my own thoughts, so I like to keep my mind clear. This way my ideas can be fresh and unique, although I do love watching certain choreographers and creatives. Following their work is always inspiring and helps me think outside the box. I always have to remind myself to be grateful where I’m at and not compare my journey to other people. Being a dancer especially, it’s a huge industry and it’s easy to feel down when you feel like you are not progressing as much as you had hoped. You have to accept the journey and stay focused and only compete against the previous version of yourself.
What are some of the challenges you face in a creative role?
Reaching a creative block happens very often. Being creative comes from being inspired and clear-minded. Moments when I feel overwhelmed or exhausted, it is really hard to find a natural flow of ideas. I reached a point earlier this year where I was so stressed that I felt such a disconnect to music. I didn’t feel anything from listening to music, it was really hard to build from that and create something raw when my body just wasn’t in the right mindset. I’ve learnt it’s really important to take time off to refresh yourself. You can’t move forward without having time to re-evaluate where you are at. Taking time off is more beneficial in the long run. In my specific job I have had many challenges, it is a lot of trial and error and learning as I go. I’m super passionate and it’s natural for me to give so much energy to others but I stopped putting my own well-being first. I was always making sure all my students were happy, I didn’t end up having energy left over for myself. I found when I was exhausted, I wasn’t able to properly inspire my students, so I learnt how to make sure I always leave time and energy for me and remind myself I’m also a student and can keep growing. When you have your own company, it’s a 24/7 job so learning to manage your time well is essential. I’m learning to be more thick-skinned too and not take things so personally. My company is like my baby and I am super protective of my students. Sometimes I take things really hard but I’m learning to keep my head down and just keep doing what I’m doing and not let other’s opinions or difficult situations distract me.
Is there a favourite project you've created?
I’ve only had my company for 2 years now so we are just getting started in terms of projects, my priority is just focusing on classes and making sure it’s always an empowering environment for all dancers to come into and leave class feeling uplifted. Although the end of year shows are always an amazing process, it’s the time where all students can be in a room together and showcase what they worked on all year. I love seeing all their friends and family come support them, it’s really a beautiful moment. The dedication all the dancers show always makes my job easier, we all work so well as a team and I love that dance can bring together so many different people and of all ages too. Dance really is a universal language.
Do you have any tips and advice for fellow creatives?
Main thing is to have a passion and a vision. You can’t force anything, you need to have a love for something and genuinely want to see it grow and flourish. People respond well to people who are authentic, so you need to let things happen naturally instead of trying to rush and force it. Loving what you do is the main thing, the rest will follow and you will grow your fan base/ business. Being patient is a big one too, so many people want to cheat their way to success, but it isn’t an easy process. You just need to be authentic and do things your way and eventually the success will come. Building a strong team who you can rely on and build together is key. I’m thankful to have amazing students who embody all the same values as me and have the same vision for my company that I do. They help represent Hero the way I had hoped, we are finally getting recognised and have a little fan base which is so lovely. Finding a balance — it is okay to take days off to regather yourself to refresh mentally. Be committed — it is a constant journey of personal growth. There is so much to learn and always room for improvement, always set new challenges and goals. Planning is such a huge part of it, I always keep a journal and am always planning something. Set lots of little goals that eventually will lead you to your ultimate dream.