Much of what it takes to be a great dancer is not learned in the classroom. Instead, these things are learned by living.
Just open your eyes to the wealth of knowledge all around you and your dancing will grow. While sitting outside on a cool Fall day recently I realized that trees have a lot in common with great dancers.
On first glance this may seem to be a very basic observation, but it’s actually very important. Trees withstand challenges based on the nourishment they are able to draw in from their environment.
As a dancer, if you fail to attend to your basic physical needs, your ability to perform and learn will be effected. Ignoring those needs by merely surviving off of junk food and sugary beverages endangers your future as a dancer.
A tree with a shallow root system is bound to topple over during the first harsh storm. A tree with few roots is also in danger, even if they are deep.
In the same way dancers depend on their system of roots. Dance roots can be instructors, training, or experiences. Like a tree, the deeper and more diverse a dancer’s roots, the stronger the dancer is. Another powerful root is the amount of love in the dancers heart for the dance. Still another is how much joy the artist is able to communicate to an audience.
When you see a dancer who blows you away with their ability, know that they must have deep roots!
When you see an outstanding performance by a dancer, it’s hard to imagine that they were at one time new and inexperienced in their art form. But it’s true, in order to become a legend, you must first be a novice. Even the mighty oak tree starts as a tiny sapling struggling its way up to the light above.
That’s why it doesn’t pay to compare yourself to any other dancers, especially the great ones. For you have no way of knowing how mighty a shadow you will cast when fully grown!
While trees may look very similar to one another, no two will ever be exactly the same. Genetic endowment & environmental factors have an incredible impact on the development of the tree.
The same factors also impact dancers. If you spend your entire dance life seeking to be like another dancer, at best you will only become a second rate version of them. However, if you embrace your individuality and your point of view you will truly become what you are meant to be…
A dancer unlike any other!
In the case of trees, it’s the light of day that feeds them and helps them continue to grow. In fact, without the light the tree dies.
Dancers too are always stretching towards the light of inspiration and creativity; seeking new ways to express who they really are. Just as the tree will never reach the sun, none of us will ever reach perfection. But we keep stretching anyway.