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Are You an Artist or a Technician?

Our dance training encourages us to fixate on our technical skills -- to perfect our lines, to max out the height of our jumps, to crank our extensions, to whip out as many turns as possible, to wow them with our tricks.

And of course, there's no denying that developing these skills is a huge part of our dance art. After all, our audience is partially drawn to us simply because of the amazing feats we can perform with our bodies. But in that pursuit of flawless technique and explosive tricks, somewhere along the way, you risk losing your actual art.

You become so concerned about doing things "right." You become obsessed with reaching perfection. Your thoughts are consumed with looking a certain way...copying that image of the thoroughbred ballerina you wish you were. You're preoccupied by the opinions of your audience and peers, worried about how they are judging you & whether you measure up. Besides making you slightly neurotic and self-absorbed (don't hate me...I'm not calling you out...I've been there too!), this mindset ruins your art. Your dance becomes all about you preserving your ego. Instead of using your performance to connect with the use it to justify your worth.

Your physical dancing might look the same on the surface, but your audience can feel the difference in your mindset. And that usually determines whether they are moved by your performance or not.

Sure a performance with the most amazing tricks and flawless technique can wow your audience...but they won't be inspired, changed, impacted by your art unless they feel something deeper. And that requires an authentic openness. It requires you to become a channel for art to flow through you. It requires you to let go of your ego and immerse yourself in the story, the emotions, the intentions of the piece you are dancing. When you step on the stage, it's the difference between thinking look at me and how well I'm doing this dance! versus losing your self as you become a part of the dance. When you stop searching for validation in your dancing...that's when it becomes real art.

This passage from Osho describes this distinction beautifully:

"Ordinarily, the artist is the most egoistic person in the world. But then he is not a true artist. He has used art as a means for his ego trip...

The true artist disappears utterly. These other people are only technicians; I will not call them artists but technicians. I will not call them creators, I will call them only composers. Yes, to compose a poem is one thing, to create a poem is quite another. To compose poetry one needs to know language, grammar, rules of poetics. It is a game with words and if you know the whole game, you can create poetry. It will not be very poetic, but it will have the appearance of poetry. Technically it may be perfect, but it will have only the body--the soul will be missing.

The soul happens only when the artist disappears into his art--he is no longer separate."


~ Creativity: Unleashing the Forces Within by Osho

broken image

So here's my question for you:

Are you an artist or a technician?

Something to think about the next time you find your mental demons obsessing over not being perfect yet, berating you for not looking like Sylvie Guillem, or using the stage and a false sense of bravado to feed your ego. To lock this distinction in, I leave you with one more passage from Osho:

"So the real artist never thinks of perfection. He has no idea of perfection, he simply allows himself into a surrender, into a let go, and whatsoever happens, happens. The real artist thinks certainly of totality but never of perfection. He wants to be totally in it, that's all. When he dances, he wants to disappear into the dance. He does not want to be there, because the presence of the dancer will be a disturbance in the dance. The grace, the flow, will be disturbed, obstructed. When the dancer is not there, all rocks have disappeared, the flow is very silent, smooth."


~ Creativity: Unleashing the Forces Within by Osho

I totally recommend this book if you haven't read it yet. It's good for inspiration as well as aligning you with your real purpose. It's so easy to get lost in the dance world...we all need reminders of why we started dancing in the first place and what we desire to express to keep us authentic in our art.

Photo credit: Rachel Neville