Does it ever feel like you’ve forgotten how to love dancing? It’s something I hear from my dancers a lot. “Dance is so hard. Why do I do this to myself? I don’t even know why I’m dancing anymore!”
I remember those days. I remember long, hard days of taking corrections, analyzing every finger and toe in the mirror, and constantly looking, looking, looking for problems. And since there are *always* problems, it can start to feel like you’re never going to get where you’re going.
First, everyone has those days, so take a deep breath and know that you’re not alone.
Second, every minute of every day does not have to be about perfection or fixing things. (So just ditch that idea!)
Third, when you do feel like you’re going down that black hole of perfection and analyzation, it’s definitely time to step away from the mirror and the nitpicking and just…dance.
Dance like your biggest fan is watching. You have someone in your life who *loves* your dancing – everyone does. That person never sees the mistakes and thinks everything you do is golden. Imagine that person standing in the front of the studio, or at the door, and dance for that person only. Just let go, feel the music, feel your body engaging in the movement and enjoy the wonderful feeling that dancing gives you.
Allowing yourself to do this will reconnect you to the reasons that you started dancing in the first place. Too often, those reasons can get lost in the day-to-day experience of training. It’s like missing the forest for the trees: you work and sweat and cry, and at the end of the day, you have no joy to show for it.
I think that’s a real pity, and perhaps the worst casualty of taking it all a little too seriously. One of my dancers likes to remind herself that she’s not curing cancer and no one’s life depends on her nailing the final diagonal in her variation. That helps put her endeavors into perspective and it helps her remember to love it. Otherwise, what’s it all for?
The next time you find yourself sinking beneath the weight of your imperfections, or consistently leaving the studio with feelings of loss or frustration, try to take a step back. Ask yourself, why do I dance? Then tap into that answer the next time you’re dancing. You owe it to yourself to at least enjoy yourself a little bit everyday.