I remember when I was a 10 year old ballet student being carted around by my teacher and mother to various dance conventions sometimes meeting important other teachers and choreographers . They were trying to assess or confirm my talent via other professionals. I sometimes felt bandied about as a fish would be judged fresh or not based on its clear, not cloudy eyes.
Perhaps it was fair and reasonable to believe that they were doing the right thing. But to me, I felt like an exhibit. What overwhelmed my experience was a need for approval from those in a position to confirm what my teacher and mother had already surmised about my talent. I’m still not sure if I needed approval or I needed approval for them.
Ten year olds need validation, mostly in order to know that they are pleasing their parents/teachers/caregivers. This is probably a healthy attitude in that the opposite – completely out of control rebelliousness would be disruptive at the least and psychologically concerning in its excess.
But still, a bit of rebelling can teach us what is important , setting boundaries by rejecting ideals and behavior that clearly don’t apply to our learned experience of ourselves and what makes us tick, and what makes for contentment.
Dancing – whether in your living room, ballroom or other events like parties or weddings – is at the end of the day an expression of YOU. There is only one of you, as we have heard so many times. Self approval is our only real guide if we believe in the uniqueness of ourselves.
In ballroom terms, there is no set amount of time that behooves us to learn a routine, improve our hip action or arm styling or lose weight. Sure it’s nice to set a goal, but that goal may be better served by basing it on the reality of our own self approval rating. It is easier to use another’s guide than formulate our own – that is work. Work that believes in the truth of self approval. (This is not to say that all of us approve of all of our behavior all the time!)
Even if you don’t have a ‘pleasing others’ orientation, our culture tends to encourage achievement levels that are often random in their relentlessness and insistent on prescribed fast results with no room for exploration and failure – for more on my take on failure click here.
I found that I often, and unknowingly don’t even need a person to look for approval, I have the cultural energy field of approval!
One of my favorite quotes concerning this topic is this one from Mark Twain:
“We can secure other people’s approval, if we do right and try hard; but our own is worth a hundred of it, and no way has been found out of securing that”
If you find this intriguing, book a lesson with me, either on zoom.com or if you are in the NY/NJ area at my studio in Montclair, NJ. Please use my contact form, tell me about yourself and leave your availability. I will respond within 24 hours.
Happy Dancing! If you know other dancers who may benefit from reading my blog, please forward.
To get my free 10 Steps to Competitive Greatness in PDF format, click here.