Jilissa told us a story yesterday about when she was in dance class.
(I don’t know what part of her training this was during, but that fact is irrelevant.)
She had us doing a combination across the floor while making sound effects for each of the moves in the combination. She wanted us to think about the expression we use while dancing. She pointed out that you can have all the technique in the world, but if you don’t have expression, the audience won’t be impressed. She told us that she is more of a technical dancer than an expressive one, but that when she started expressing more, and trying harder and focusing on that rather than just technique, that was when she started getting compliments.
How did she finally get to that point?
She told us a story of a time when she was required to do a 10 minute improve.
I couldn’t do a 3 minute improve, let alone 10 minutes, but it was part of the class. Everyone had to do it, she was part of the “everyone.”
She told us how nervous she was at the thought of it, afraid of failing. Is there really a way to fail during improve? Not exactly, but she was afraid anyway. What if she wasn’t good enough? What if it wasn’t what they wanted? What if it was too repetitive? She told us how she was so afraid that they were going to judge her and she wasn’t going to measure up.
But so what if it’s repetitive? So what if they didn’t like it? It’s improve: I’m pretty sure what they want is to see you through movement.
She pointed out that most ballet dancers have control issues. We want so desperately to be perfect, but we never can be.
No matter how hard you try, you’ll never have perfect technique.
It’s physically impossible.
So we strive to get as close to perfection as possible, and try to cover up the flukes and flaws best we can.
She made a good point, “We have to get to the place where we aren’t insecure anymore, where we don’t care what we look like or how funny we feel or what other people’s opinions may be. If we’re constantly concerned about that, we’re only going to hinder ourselves. There has to be a point where we stop obsessing over technique, let our body do what we’ve trained it to do, and just dance.”
So, she faced that fear.
She didn’t have a choice.
But there’s something funny about facing a creative block like that.
You’re forced to find a way to break through it.
There’s no excuses.
It’s either face it, or give up.
And Lord knows we aren’t quitters.
It broke through that wall for Jilissa and opened her up to growing as a dancer in ways that weren’t possible before.
And we have to find the same thing for ourselves.
So what if you look ridiculous?
Chances are there’s another girl in class afraid of the same thing,
But if she sees that you are throwing caution to the wind, she’ll feel more confident to as well.
Remind yourself why you dance, let that show.
Started ballet late October of 2011 at the age of 23.
Began pointe training late August of 2013.