Professional or Perfectionist?

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It's just another day as you enter into the studio. You're enjoying conversations and laughs with your friends before class begins.  Then you get focused, and you do your first pliè for the day.  You look in the mirror and all you can see are your flaws.  The corrections from the teacher come flooding in and you start to realize how much more you have to improve!  At this point you may start to feel like there has been no improvement. No matter how hard you work you cannot seem to do anything right.

Sound familiar? Ballet is a field where you are asked to be disciplined, critical, mature, detail oriented, all while being artistic and expressive.  How do you do that without feeling like you'll never achieve such seemingly unachievable goals?

It is hard not to get caught up in the mind set of trying to make things perfect when we are in an art form that is so demanding on details. Especially since, while you are growing, there will never be two days that will feel the same in your body.

So how do you overcome this mindset? First, lets look at how it is defined in the dictionary. Perfectionism is the refusal to accept any standard short of perfection. What's great is that we have the truth, 

"It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect" (Psalm 18:32),

to counteract that mindset.  So our confidence should be in God's strength. 

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ's power may rest on me" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

We do ask, as our students grow more serious in their ballet training, they they take on a more professional mindset but we would never ask them for perfection. Professionalism is the competence or skill expected of a professional.  If you took a peak at the Ballet 5:8 company rehearse you would see that we make plenty of mistakes in the rehearsal process, as well as have physical obstacles, such as injuries or illness, to overcome. What a company dancer displays is an open heart to continue growing and learning more about their art form. 

A professional dancer comes prepared to receive and apply corrections and to not get down if it doesn't come right away.

A teacher can see the difference between a student trying to apply corrections and a student who continues to make the same mistakes.

Above all, you are not doing any of this for your teacher's approval.  "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ." (Colossians 3:23-24).  So as you go into your next class pray that the Lord may grant you an open and humble heart to learn, grow, and enjoy the gift of dance that he has given you!

This post's author Brette Benedict is a professional dancer and company artist with the Ballet 5:8 professional company. Enjoying her first performing season with Ballet 5:8, Brette previously performed with Rochester City Ballet and has her Bachelor of Science in Ballet from Jacob’s School of Music at Indiana University.