Thursday, 23 September 2010
My daughter is a dancer. She is a good dancer, but when she goes to dance classes four times a week, she sees there girls who are eight years old who are better than she is. She gets depressed. But, I say to her, you are a good dancer and you are a beautiful dancer. You have a uniqueness that is very compelling and many people like it. But I am not as good as she is, she says.
Sometimes, I say, you watch "So You Think You Can Dance" and see dancers of equal quality side by side and yet, you find yourself saying, "I like her better than the other one." Everyone does it. At that point, it is not about technical achievement, it becomes something innate in the artist, some style, some nuance, some turn of the wrist, tilt of the head, expression on the face that draws your eye and your heart. This is the artist's "uniqueness" and the strength of the artist comes from finding that uniqueness and leaning towards it, encouraging it, accepting it and letting it grow.
It is difficult to do because we, as a species, are motivated to fit in and standing on what sets us apart is something that takes getting used to and something that is unnatural at first. It begins by a small acceptance - by saying "I like that little thing." Then this can grow into liking what you do as an artist. It may not be the best, but it is your own, and no one else can do it better than you can. You have to take little steps towards having the courage to stand on your own uniqueness.