Committed… To Conquering Perfectionism
I know I’ve been absent for a while… and it’s not because I haven’t had any observations to share about dance or art or business. But I think I’ve been waffling on what to post and how to post it. Which gets me to the subject of the day: commitment.
I don’t mean commitment in a relationship sense. This blog is certainly not to discuss those issues. But rather to committing to an idea or artistic endeavor, movement, choreography, or event.
I’m a procrastinator, and I know that the main reason I procrastinate is because I’m a perfectionist. I wait until the “right moment” to do something – to write a new blog post, create a new workshop topic, make a new flier. And I used to be a lot more of a procrastinator, but what I’ve needed to do is just commit.
This applies directly to dance and to art in general. Anyone who’s read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (read it!) knows that procrastination is a form of resistance. Resistance prevents us from moving forward, from growing, from making progress and making art. My hesitation to write a new blog post is not only because I am afraid that this post won’t be as good as my last posts, but also because I’m worried about making this blog post the most amazing blog post ever. Or, what if this just isn’t good enough? If I’d just sit my butt down and write a blog post, then maybe I wouldn’t be worrying about all these things, and I’d actually write something worth reading.
When it comes to dance, these same concepts apply. I see students in my classes hesitate in executing a technical movement, because they so want to get the movement right. (I’m terribly guilty of this myself, not only with dance but also when I was a figure skater.) I’ll try so hard to get whatever technique correct that I won’t commit myself fully to the movement itself. If I’m learning a choreography in a workshop and I forget a section, instead of dancing that part of the choreography at half effort–or worse, just standing there and not doing it at all–I should dance something simple with dedication and poise until I can catch up to the song again with the steps that I do know.
What we need to do is commit to the movement with the mindfulness to know when we’re doing it incorrect, but at least we’ve given it our best effort. Rather than tip-toeing around the movement in an attempt to get it right the first time, we need to just jump right in and give it a go.
We also need a balance between gusto and perfection. While I admire a dancer who tackles a movement or a performance at full-force, such enthusiasm can also lead to a messy and unpolished performance. But what’s worse is when an artist or dancer agonizes over one set or song so much that they never feel it’s ever right to perform, and then we’re all robbed of sharing that art.
Perfectionism is the enemy of art. I need to remember that, and I’m writing this blog post to let you all that I am committed to writing more, even if my posts aren’t perfect. I’m also writing this to remind you all to make art, even if it doesn’t always live up to your own personal standards. The only way to improve is to keep creating and to learn from our own mistakes.