A few weeks ago I found myself in a really odd spot. I’d finished a recording for an online show and I ran to the camera. I wanted to watch myself as soon as I was done to know if I had to re-record the set. Was my hair bad, did my stomach protrude too much, was I at the wrong angle, was I just not enough? I am a person who loves to doubt my ability. I work so hard on what I do, but I only see the missteps. I could play my finger cymbals for hours, but I can only remember the one clang. I can spend a lifetime allowing my mind (and the patriarchy) to categorize every way I fail as a performer, as a dancer, as a woman.
Recording my shows was not allowing me to create distance for kindness. Sitting in my costume, I replaced kindness to myself with an obsession with perfect work. Without that distance, my view on my own performances dimmed.
In that moment, I realized I needed to take a break from disliking my work. It’s exhausting to spend so much energy tearing myself apart. Energy I could spend in millions of better ways. In live shows, I give myself a few rules:
You will not watch this video until you have emotional distance from the performance. That time varies depending on my mind, but it is always followed.
You will never complain about any part of your set until you have left the venue. No one else needs to know what you consider a failure.
You will talk about your set the same way you talk about a beloved troupe mate’s set. You are your own beloved.
With all this, I needed a way to focus this energy. I yearn for the freedom performing lives gives, but in a world that isn’t live. I needed to build a way to apply my live performance rules to my prerecorded sets. So I posted a video of me dancing to one of my favorite songs and only recorded it once. It was the live show I needed to feel free. I posted it online, expecting it to be ignored.
I was quite wrong. I found this community of dancers looking for that same experience. It felt like I found land after struggling to swim in a strong current. Kirah, Liila and I joined forces together to help create a small effort to give dancers that experience. We’ve spent hours crafting themes, which turned into three weeks of prompts. We found other dancers who inspire us and asked them to join us. We’ve done more organizing than I want to admit.
But it done. Now it’s three weeks of prompts you can engage with as you wish. You can do every day, you can do one. I want you to make this your own. I want to give you permission to take a break from judging your capacity and take a moment to enjoy your strength as a competent, talented performer. I want you to join us in #therealdancething.
Know I am always on your side.