Excellence pursues an ideal but does not demand perfection

Though I had hoped to write here daily, a busy and derivative 48 hours cut me off. Even today, I have key rehearsals for my piece later this afternoon as well as tomorrow morning, plus commitment to attend tonight’s Sketchfest doubleheader at Theatre Off Jackson.

My piece has undergone several shifts and changes in the last 24 hours. I went from two pieces of music, a lot of added props and a more comedic bent… to three pieces of music, virtually no props* and a more physical dance theme that, whether or not it retains any comedy, isn’t so concerned with comedy. The text that introduces my piece gets to the point more quickly. Despite making the bulk of the piece more fluid leading into these last couple rehearsals, I actually have a much stronger grasp on the piece than I did before. Though it was more choreographed, I felt less connected with what I had before.

Last night I also saw a pair of dance shows. Kate Wallich produced a piece in her trademark style called “Smoosh” for a Cornish College art party, and Alice Gosti curated a set of short dances for a show at Pink Door. Seeing these shows I was once again reminded of the abstract aesthetic focus of the average dance piece, and nervous concerns I had about my piece quickly faded away.

I realized that any solid theatrical narrative granted to my piece is more than people see (and expect to see) in most dance pieces, and though many dancers have and exhibit excellent technical skill, no one expects a 10.0 floor routine from a dance piece. The pieces I saw were at times technically brilliant and at times very raw or simple, but for the most part still engaging and fun. And that ultimately is what brings people to dance, theatre and performing art.

Because I make an effort to commit to excellence in my work, I often get too demanding of myself… to the point where I can doubt myself to death when my work is far from ideal. But people have raved about and seen the value in my work time and again when my finished product (or the product they saw) was far from an otherwise unreachable ideal.

I’m not a well trained dancer and other performers know I’m not a well trained dancer like many of them are, but that hasn’t led many of them to condemn me for it. I have to be careful not to waste any energy condemning myself, energy I should devote to building a piece that despite short time is rapidly forming and taking complete shape.

* – It’s a good thing I didn’t get past the concept point with those prop ideas and waste the money to buy them!

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