I have noticed this to be a reoccurring theme; not only in dance, but seemingly everywhere I go.
I’ve hesitated writing about this, because it forces me to acknowledge that I, indeed, have to let myself be vulnerable and be okay with it.
I’ve had my fair share of abuse lashed out in my vulnerability, and some even when I’m hard as a rock, but now comes the point where I have to ask myself; am I going to let that define me?
You go through things, and you think you’ve overcome it all and healed as much as you can; but the truth is, you never really stop healing.
Once you’ve had a wound so deep inflicted on you–for whatever the reason–getting back to the person you were pre-event can prove to be rather difficult. You may feel that it takes months or years to finally get back to where you feel like you know who you are, and by then you’re a completely different person anyway. I may feel that you never get there. But you know what, every moment–before, after, whatever–you are you. You are constantly growing, developing, falling and rising and falling and rising again. This thing doesn’t define you, but it does become part of your story.
This may come across as embarrassing, shameful even, but it’s not.
You are now given something most other people never receive.
You can speak up and speak out.
You can be the gentle reassurance when someone else finds themselves in the same place.
The pain and grief will come and go in waves, but you can either let it weigh down on you, or you can rise above it and do something with it.
I’ve heard the quote about how anyone can do the moves, but without the expression, technique falls flat (total and complete paraphrase. In fact, I don’t think I got a word of that correct; but the concept is what matters.) and I’ve struggled with the logic of this. How can I express if I don’t even understand the steps? Isn’t that what I’m in class for? To learn how to execute certain moves and then perfect on them as I learn to string them together with other moves? How can I even get across the floor when I don’t understand the moves you’re asking me to get there?
Woah, woah, woah, slow down there, killer.
You’re thinking too much.
Stop, take a breath, and just go.
So what if you screw it up. Even if you were on stage, half the people in the audience don’t know what you’re doing anyway.
Ever watched videos of professionals? Newsflash: they screw up too.
Do you know why you have a hard time being able to tell?
Do you know what makes their artistry so great?
It makes me wish I could get back into an acting class, or do another play. To remind myself how it feels and what is required to put your entire being into a character. You know the lines, you know the blocking, you are equipped as much as you can be and still things occasionally go wrong. But you are able to handle it, “The show must go on.” You have to be able to put your whole self into the character, to essentially bring them to life. What is different in dance?
Even if you’re in the corps, you’re vital. Every part is important.
I heard a man on a radio broadcast yesterday give the example of an orchestra. He asked a conductor which was the hardest instrument to conduct. Do you know what he said? “Second fiddle.” Do you know why? Because anyone can play first fiddle and put their complete self into the piece, but to be the second fiddle and put forth the same energy and excitement and passion? It’s hard to find. People don’t like not being known for their great work.
Let go of your pride.
Be like Bess Flowers. She has more movie work under her belt than most top named stars starting in the 1920s, but most movie goers wouldn’t know her name, and only the avid would recognize her face. Why? She was an extra. They called her, “The Queen of Hollywood Extras.” She was so good and so consistent and put all of herself into “just” the extra roles that the directors started to take note. She was even requested by many of the big named guys of the day.
She was vulnerable.
She went in every day like she had something great to offer the world, because she did.
She didn’t do it to see her name in lights, but out of deep passion. She wanted to see the movies succeed, she wanted to do what she could to add strength and ease to bringing these stories to life.
And she never had to worry about having work.
Put all of you into everything you do.
Even if you think no one will ever notice or appreciate you, I guarantee you, it’s worth it.
And not only is it worth it, it’ll encourage and inspire people that you may have never realized, and ones that those the big names inspire would never be able to.
So now, in class, as much as I am able, I want to put my whole self into what I do.
I want to develop and push myself, I want to give every ounce of everything I have.
I want to put everything into dance now, because I may not get another chance after today.
I know this all too well.
Fight for it.
Don’t make excuses.
Don’t give up.
Show the world what you’re made of.
What’s the worst that could happen?