Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Annoying Dance Sayings Pt 2

Don't get me wrong. I don't want to disagree with Martha Graham. That would be stupid. Obviously she knew way, way, WAY more about dancing than I ever will, and that is why there's a ton of quotes from her on Pinterest and absolutely zero by me.

The problem with this quote isn't the quote itself, its in how people interpret it. People see this quote and they think "Well, I'm passionate about dance so that means I'm great! I'm gonna sit on the couch and watch a movie instead of drilling my arm work because I'm already awesome. Thanks, Martha Graham!"

I've fallen into this trap before. I'm a passionate dancer. I go to class several times a week. I emote all over the stage. I can talk about dance until I'm blue in the face. As such, there have been times where I've gone to a show and thought "Oh sure, she has great technique, but she's not showing a lot of passion in her dance. I'm sooooo much better than here." Well, that's just plain wrong. Great dancers have technique and passion. I can't just coast along on my passion and ignore the fact that my footwork is sloppy.

Great dancers are great because of their passion, but it's because a passion for dance drives you to be great. When you have a passion for dance, it's not enough to go to class on Wednesday night and then maybe practice once or twice between classes. Passion means you take all of the classes you can afford and you practice every day (when you can overcome your natural laziness, I'm talking to myself here, can you tell?). Passion means when you're the only one in class who can't do something, you ask your teacher for advice and then you go home, and you practice it in the mirror, and you cry and yell and stomp around the house when you can't get it right, because sometimes passion is a little sad and angry, instead of beautiful and lovey-dovey. Passion means sitting on the yoga mat cursing like a sailor because you're 30 seconds into a 2 minute stretch and your glute is cramping like a mofo, but you've got to work on your splits so you tough it out.

Passion means sometimes you go weeks or months without being able to really socialize with the non-dance people in your life, because you have class on weeknights and performances or workshops on weekends. Passion means sometimes you tell your spouse you'd rather stay home with a DVD than go to the movies, because you've got to work on your new costume. Passion means that you go to class in cheap Target yoga pants but perform in custom-made velvet skirts. Passion means that you give up an international vacation so you can save your money to study with great dancers. Passion means wearing pants and long skirts all summer because your knees are always covered in bruises from floorwork. For some dance forms, passion means you never wear sandals again because your toes scare small children.

Passion does not mean "Oh, I really like dancing and I'm SO emotional on stage."

Don't agree with me? Here's another quote from Martha Graham that you probably won't see on Pinterest:

"[When I stopped dancing] I had lost my will to live. I stayed home alone, ate very little, and drank too much and brooded. My face was ruined, and people say I looked odd, which I agreed with. Finally my system just gave in. I was in the hospital for a long time, much of it in a coma."

That's passion.

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