As dancers and creatives we all have a little streak of perfectionism running through our DNA.
What’s that you ask? It is the act of striving for flawlessness and in small doses it can be a blessing but, it can also be a curse.
It means that we usually hold ourselves to a high standard, have a strong work ethic, an eye for detail, an insatiable drive to continue to do better and obviously, a passion for our chosen field.
But it can also mean that we often pick ourselves apart, over analyse the details, feel defeated (even after a win!). It can be so destructive that “not trying” becomes the safest option because it feels better not to try than to achieve something “less than perfectly” on the first attempt.
Who has ever kept quiet in class when the teacher has asked a question, even though you are 99.9 percent sure you know the answer? It’s much easier to be quietly right than to be so outwardly and confidently wrong.
These dancers and students will often hide behind a “I don’t care” and “I can’t be bothered” disguise until eventually, someone who was once thriving, falls behind. The pressure of catching up and of not being “the best” is too much, leading a once passionate and dedicated dancer to quit.
The reality is, nothing in life will ever be perfect, there will always be mistakes! You mustn’t them beat you. Mistakes are proof that you are trying, that you are growing and that you are human. Making mistakes teaches us to be resilient and strong. They teach us how to survive in a not so perfect world and when we are not perfect ourselves, we are more forgiving and understanding of our equally imperfect peers.
As someone who is your dance teacher, you will often hear me making corrections, telling you to work harder, encouraging you to practice and being well, a nag. I can see why you would assume that I am perfect (I mean, look at me *flicks hair*) but the truth is I am very much NOT. Despite the perfectionist gene running hard and fast through my veins, I make mistakes, EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Some, I think about for days, weeks, months after they happen. Others, I brush off, acknowledge the lesson learned and move forward.
Here are few not-so-perfect dancing moments that I have lived through and survived to tell the tale. Some of them hurt, some of them ate away at my brain (some still do!), some of them are just plain hilarious but all of them were a lesson that I needed to learn and have made me the strong, resilient, driven, creative person I am today. *flicks hair again*
- I have forgotten my dance on stage (yes, an entire dance)
- I have made mistakes on stage (every dance, every performance)
- I make mistakes in every class I participate in. When I am a student and even when I am teaching!
- During my first concert, I fell asleep in the change room and missed my last dance of the show and the finale. Side note: I was also so nervous, I threw up before I even arrived at the theatre.
- During my second concert, I was late on stage and missed about 30 seconds of my dance.
- I have fallen over on stage.
- I have cried in class, on multiple occasions, out of sheer frustration.
- I have shown up to photo day without my costumes.
- I have shown up to rehearsals with out all of my dance shoes.
- I have participated in competitions and not placed first. I have even participated and not placed at all.
- I have participated in dance exams and “only just” passed.
- I auditioned for an elite full time dance course and got sent home after the first round.
- I auditioned for a hip hop crew that I love and admire and didn’t get a call back.
- I have been lectured, yelled at and “told off” from teachers for not working hard enough and not practicing.
- I have “talked back”, argued and given attitude to my teachers. Whoops. #teenagechloe
- I have been late to class.
- I have been removed from choreography because I didn’t know it well enough in time.
- I have been removed from choreography even though I did know it!
- I was once in a dance that went for 3 minutes and 25 seconds. I was only in 4 counts of 8 out of the whole dance and half of that time was standing in a pose that was facing the back!
- I have fallen over on stage.
- My headpiece has fallen off on stage (multiple times)
- I have forgotten my positions and where I was travelling to on stage.
- I have had many, MANY, costume malfunctions on stage.
- In the year 2000 I cut my own fringe. Ok, not dancing related but I did have to perform on stage with my new “do” and my mum did still buy that year’s dancing photos. My sisters called it my “tufty bits”.
- I have shown up to comps, rehearsals, photo days and concerts at the wrong time because I didn’t read the notice properly.
- I have torn my dance tights right before I was supposed to enter the stage.
- I have spilled food on my costume!
- I once gave my mum strict instructions on where on my costume she needed to sequin, only to arrive to photo day and it was completely wrong. Sorry mum!
- I have misplaced costume items.
The list goes on and on! And to think these are ONLY SOME of the mistakes or “failures” I have made on my dancing journey and doesn’t even include my day to day activities as a frazzled twenty-something millennial. Think; forgetting doctors appointments, somehow burning the chicken but also leaving it raw on the inside, that time I got my car stuck on a large concrete pillar – that’s a story for another day. The point is I survived or, I am surviving.
So, the next time you make a mistake or something feels less-than-perfect; take a deep breath and a step back. Was it important? Was it in your control? What have you learned from this? Are there any consequences? And instead of BEATING yourself up about it, BUILD yourself up. Congratulate yourself for taking a chance, acknowledge your strengths, have a moment of despair and then dust yourself off.
Mistakes are proof that you are trying, that you are learning and that you are human. Remember, it’s ok to make mistakes but it’s never ok not to try. Fall down seven times, stand up eight. YOU ARE A SURVIVOR.
By Chloe Jobson – A Serial Mistake Maker.