30×30: Lesson 13: Expression over performance


I’ve already written before in this series that I was a pretty horrible dancer until I learned to let go. In the context of that previous post, “letting go” meant being willing to take risks, both physically and emotionally; but for the sake of this post, I’d like to add a different lesson — that “letting go” within dance also meant a certain pouring out of the arabesque, the leap, and the turn from somewhere deep in the heart.

I’ve sensed this pouring out in other dancers by the look in their eyes. When a dancer’s body lifts into an attitude, when her arms extend, when her head tilts — her eyes shine with longing, her soul infinitely extends. The best dancers I’ve known are ones that dance not just to perform but to communicate this hope, peace, and beauty through the arms, the poise, the grace.

Laurel Anspach, my dance teacher, once said that all of life was to be an expression instead of a performance. As a grad school student, I wear so many performances daily: that of the good grad student who did do all the reading. That of a teacher who is not frustrated by her own shortcomings. And — when I’m abroad — that of a European urbanite who is trying desperately to ensure that she can properly use the bus and order coffee instead of betraying that she really is the daughter of an American farmer, a million miles from home.

While there is value in understanding your roles, what would happen if I lifted the curtain between who I’m trying to be and who I actually am?

Find an introduction on this series here.  Dig into other life lessons here.


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