Am I good enough?! Is this art really for me?! Maybe they are right, and I should simply quit and start a “normal” life?...
“Am I good enough?”, “Is this art really for me?”, “Maybe they are right, and I should simply quit and start 'normal' life?” Are those thoughts familiar to you? I believe every artist in any field faces them at some point in their artistic journey. And guess what? Even when you manage to process all those negative gremlins once, they don’t just disappear forever. They are coming back again and again, as a cycle that never ends, but also as an important reminder that you are still alive, and that you still do care.
Artists are like parents and kids at the same time. We care about our art so much that it feels almost our child, like a piece of us. And at the same time, just like kids, we want everyone to love and appreciate our creations the way we do. And especially in the dance area.
Dance cannot live without a dancer. We can’t separate it from a live body, a creator of the movement, and place it in a museum, or hang on a wall. Even when videotaped, what we see is a human being moving to the rhythm or melody. Dance is a kinetic art which often leads to an association of dance with an actual person. If someone starts criticizing a dance performance, we often take it extremely personal, almost as if they are talking about us ourselves, not just the dance skills.
At those moments of negative self-talk when we are not quite happy with our dance skills, or with how our artistic journey goes, we often don’t separate where the dance is, and where we as personalities are. Instead, it’s far too easy to objectively look at our artistic realities, needs, goals, strong and weak points, and simply fall into blaming it all on: “I’m not good enough!”. I believe there are two reasons for it: associating dance with ourselves, and holding on to the ego.
As I’ve mentioned above, dance is so closely bind to a human body, and as a result, to a person herself. In a way, we are the art objects themselves. In order to showcase our art, we need to showcase ourselves. We need to be both brave and vulnerable enough to come out under the spotlight of people’s eyes to make our art seeing. We need to overcome our own nervousness, tiredness, and fears, otherwise it will influence the dance itself. So it’s all very closely related not only to our body skills, but to our personalities as well.
The second reason is our ego. We often like to play the role of a hero by holding on to those grand statements: “Dance is my life”, “Dance is what I am”, “Being a dancer is not a profession, it’s a lifestyle”. And all this is true, but to a certain extend. As long as it inspires and keeps you moving forward, great! But do those beliefs always serve you good? For instance, “dance is my life”… Yes, of course, for each professional artist, dance plays a huge role in their lives. No questions about it. But is it the only thing? Or should it be the only thing? How about your family and friends? How about other things you enjoy doing? Books you like to read, movies you like to watch, meals you like to cook… Even those interests you’d like to explore at some point in the future, but keep them o hold for now... All those things together define your life, and you as a person. Yes, when we claim those bold statements, it pleases our ego, and makes us feel like an Artist, with capital 'A'. But it also easily puts us in a position of victim, because we actually start believing in those phrases. And when something goes wrong in our dance journey, we think that our whole life is about to end. So be careful with playing the role of a “true artist”.
Each person, and especially in a creative field, will have her own struggles and self-doubts. But don’t let them overload your life. Rather, use them to fuel and push you forward. It’s your story, and you are the author, so choose whom you’d like to play: the winner or the victim.
Author: Iana Komarnytska
Photographer: Pedro Bonatto
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