Thursday, May 08, 2008

Like there's no tomorrow

Last night was the first performance of Child's dance recital. Of course she was utterly cute and perfect (whether she did the steps or not), and when she's on stage I can't look at anyone else but her. She glows for me.

When she's not on stage...well.

I was a ballet dancer for 8 years. I was in a professional ballet company (even though I was a teenager). I also did tap, jazz, and modern. I am cursed for the rest of my life with the dancer's eye.

This means I see how it should be, each move: arms, hands, fingers, legs. Extension. Arch. I see whether a movement is on beat or off. Whether the group is together the way they should be. Whether everyone hits their jumps at the same time, who is weak at turning left, who can dance fine on their own but doesn't do well as part of a group. It's similar to when you learn to be a writer and you have trouble reading just for pleasure anymore--you see craft, or lack of craft, everywhere.

But I realized again last night, watching girls of all ages and all different skill levels on that stage, a vital truth. It is NOT, ever, the most important thing to be technically perfect. It wasn't the technically perfect girls my eye was drawn to, that I enjoyed watching.

It's the ones who put their hearts into every move.

They were confident, not hesitant. They didn't hold their bodies back for fear of making a mistake--or even if they did make a mistake. They owned the dance. They sold it. They smiled, not the fake grit-teeth smile plastered on, but the smile that says "This is ME dancing. I am enjoying the hell out of this."

Watching someone dance like that, I forget about all the technical stuff. I nod along, and wish I was up there too--because damn, it looks like fun.

That's the kind of writer you want to be too. Confident in your words, your characters, your images, your story. Not writing for other people--that's like the fakey-fake smile. Writing for your ownself, and enjoying the heck out of it. Dropping your whole heart into every line.

And you know what I was thinking last night, as I was clapping another girl who hit the last beat, arms spread wide, grinning like she would do it again, this minute?

Maybe that's one of the secrets to life, too.

The title for this year's show: "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow." Indeed.


Angela said...

Yes! I'd much rather watch someone who loves to dance / perform than see 'perfect technique'

Susan Adrian said...

Angela: Most definitely. It's just more fun for everyone. :)

Loretta Ross said...

Hi! Just stopped by to check out your blog. :) LOVED this post!

Susan Adrian said...

Hi Loretta!!! Thanks! Us agent-sistahs have to stick together. :)