“I do not discount the way artistry makes us feel…it’s a powerful, all-encompassing sensation. Every emotion flowing through our veins can be used as driving fuel, but negativity…will grind you to a halt.”
If you’re an artist (writer, musician, singer, actor, dancer, or all of the “above”…), I want you to take a step back for a moment. If you’re anything like me, you care. A lot. Maybe too much sometimes. It’s to be expected. Your career is not just a vague interest or a job to pay the bills, it’s your way of life. Without dance, you are not yourself. But the minute you doubt yourself and your talents and submit your mind to fear, negative questions, jealousy or all three, you’re no longer embracing the art form.
Ballet is about perfection. It’s about attaining lines and accomplishing feats that seem impossible for human beings. Can we all do everything that the art of ballet requires? No. Everyone has areas for improvement of course (unless you’re Sylvie Guillem…Wendy Whelan…Sara Mearns…Marianela Núñez). When you allow your trouble spots to glaringly affect your mind and your approach though, you’ve lost the battle. Because from there you descend a spiral staircase of feelings and baggage. Fear, doubt, anxiety, sadness, memories of failure. The joy is gone from everything. And when you lose confidence, it’s obvious…whether you’re doing morning tendus from fifth or a pas de deux. No one wants to watch a ballerina who has no joy in their eyes…no depth or glimmer of humanity.
What I’m saying is breathe. Believe in yourself. And don’t take yourself so goddamn seriously. The other night in the midst of late night pointe combinations with my students I reminded them, “it’s just ballet.” We had a good laugh, but it’s true. The studio is your safe haven. Class is the time and the place to be yourself, to make mistakes, and to try everything…a million times and more. I do not discount the way artistry makes us feel. Because it’s a powerful, all-encompassing sensation. Every emotion flowing through our veins can be used as driving fuel, but negativity, and, most importantly, self-negativity, will grind you to a halt. You only have yourself, so be kind. You’re not perfect, but you’re unique…you’re you. You have been given a gift and this time, right now. So just dance; it’s only ballet.