I’m dancing again.
Very few people know that when I was younger, I used to dance all the time – I was a classically trained ballet dancer and I loved it. But then I got sick, and I had to let that passion go. I thought that door had closed forever. If someone had told me when I was 12 that in 9 years I’d be feeling much better and ballroom dancing in Charlottetown, PEI, I probably would have hit you.
Letting go of dance hurt. I kept dancing by myself in my room in bits and pieces, but it was never the same. Often times when I did dance, I’d be in pain for several days after.
But now that I’m back at it…oh my god. It’s all I can think about. I’ve downloaded the soundtracks to all of my favourite dance movies. I’m foxtrotting around my living room and practicing the cha cha while I dry dishes. I’m standing up straighter. I’m walking with confidence again. I feel pretty again. (Don’t even ask me how long it’s been since I actually felt pretty. Ugh.)
I was in Wal Mart on Friday and found the perfect t-strap silver heels for $9. Friday night, I went to practice and danced for 3 hours straight. I’ve been on a dancing high ever since.
When I left dance all those years ago, as much as I loved it, things had started to get complicated – I was a very good dancer, and had the classic ballet body, so there was a lot of pressure to be good, most of it from myself. But that pressure to be the best was leeching the fun out of it. I wasn’t enjoying it as much anymore.
Now I’m just dancing for me and for how I feel when I move my body to music. There’s such a sense of satisfaction when you get the steps right, and you’re moving around the dance floor gracefully, confidently.
I can’t help but feel beautiful.
Bringing this to my art
Don’t worry, I haven’t abandoned my paintbrush for my dance shoes (although I might paint while wearing them). But falling in love with dance again is fueling my creativity and reminding me of how to approach my art.
Because I am just so excited about dancing again, I’m picking up the steps super fast. I just want to learn more and more and more and I’m improving pretty quickly (the fact that my body remembers how to do this dancing thing also helps, even after 9 years). Even screwing up is fun and full of laughter. I’m lapping up every second of it. When that music starts, I can’t help myself. I am dancing from sheer joy.
But it begs the question – how can I bring that passion to my art? How can I bring that joy of learning, that sheer excitement to my studio?
It’s not that I don’t love art
But you know how it is – life bogs you down. There are deadlines, there’s rejection, there’s criticism, there’s failure. You end up with a bus full of baggage. You start to lose the fire that originally drew you to it. It starts to transform into a j-o-b.
So I figure there must be a way to use my love of dance to re-inspire my art.
I realized that it comes down to attitude. I’m dancing for me, no one else. I’m not dancing to impress the teachers or the other dancers. I want to learn and improve entirely for the satisfaction of being able to dance a decent salsa.
When I am in my studio, I need to shut out all of those outside voices – I can’t paint for other artists, for my critics, for gallery owners, or really even for my collectors. I have to go in there, and paint completely for me. It’s the only way I’ll create art that’s true for me, that really expresses my vision.
When I get too caught up in the guilt and shame that Marcel The Inner Critic lumps on me, my art gets stiff, constipated, uninspired. Painting becomes akin to pulling teeth. I can’t want to improve from a sense of guilt & shame (which is how I often feel – how can I possibly call myself an artist if I’m not as good as x,y or z?)
If I can learn from a place of self satisfaction – wanting to improve entirely for the satisfaction of being able to paint a decent painting – suddenly my whole approach and attitude changes. I can do it joyfully, passionately. There’s no stress, no strain, no demands, no deadlines, no standards, no critics.
Just the joy of improving my craft for my own pride and satisfaction.