Ok, you know how when you make a new friend, on the outside you want to keep it cool, but on the inside you're like, "Yes! Score!" Well, thanks to the internet, I connected with Kirsten, a company member at Festival Ballet Providence. She writes the most lovely reflections about dancing and everything that goes along with it at her blog, Setting The Barre. Her posts are always insightful and honest and she makes tea time a priority, something I have been trying and failing to do for many years now. Kirsten was kind enough to write a little something about self love for On Ballence. Read on (maybe grab a cuppa) and enjoy!
"A few weeks ago, an influential new friend of mine revived my previously vacated confidence with four short words: I am for you.
Intrigued by the depth of such a simple phrase and the fuzzy feeling it gave me, I asked for some explanation. To be “for” someone, he clarified, is not only to wholly want the absolute best for that person, but to genuinely believe that this best is attainable. It goes beyond the mere support of another; a declaration of your authentic investment in their happiness.
Glowing in the effects of hearing that this particular someone is so content being “for” me, I began to consider my own little list of those I am undeniably “for”. My family, of course, my wonderful best friends, helpful teachers and mentors I’ve had throughout the years. But one relationship was severely underrepresented: that sacred, confusing, often malnourished bond between me, myself, and I.
Living and working in the harshly critical world of ballet habitually stains my self-portrait with bold expansions of negative qualities and an unfair minimization of those attributes that benefit me. On the competitive side of ballet, this captious behavior is valuable, impeding complacency and fostering technical growth. From the artistic standpoint, however, an overly critical disposition is hugely damaging. A skewed focus in favor of weakness prevents an otherwise natural development of confidence in those skills which we routinely rehearse. A sense of comfort allows dancers the freedom to experiment with movement. Deprived of this freedom, a dancer will always be a machine, never an artist.
Be it naturally occurring or in need of constant cultivation, some semblance of confidence is key in the composition of a creator. It is in the brave moment we decide to trust our bodies that new heights are reached. It’s in the unabashed exploration of the ways in which we interpret a musical nuance or extracurricular contemporary step that we are noticed, in the daring investigation of our own pattern-inclined minds that we conceive innovative choreography of our own. So why, then, do most dancers care so much for others and so little for themselves?
At the risk of composing one of the cheesiest sentences I have ever conceptualized, I invite you to be inspired by my bright friend’s active compassion for his favorites and add yourself to that list. Ignore the unreceptive mirror and look through the eyes of someone who is “for” you. See yourself with their wisdom. Watch as you turn and jump and hold lines that physics declared impossible. Now do not only hope, but believe that today you will turn faster, jump higher, and hold on longer than you did yesterday. Do it with confidence. Do it for you."
All photos by Jenay Evans.
Check out a guest post I wrote for Kirsten's blog earlier this summer right here.