Monday, May 23, 2011

Dance as if No One is Watching - by Diane Kelly

Dancing as if no one is watching . . . with a fish bowl on her head!

My daughter is on a competitive dance team and danced in no less than seven numbers this season, including ballet, tap, jazz, and lyrical, both as small groups and as a production team of over forty girls all on stage at once. This past weekend, I crawled out of bed at the crack of dawn and spent all day Saturday in a crowded theater watching dress rehearsals and all day Sunday at the two recitals. I sat for so long my legs and butt fell asleep.

And I loved every second of it!

My daughter takes classes four days a week and teaches younger girls on a fifth day. She never tires of dancing. When I’m in the kitchen, I often hear her feet stomping in her bedroom over my head, tapping out a number. Her size nine-and-a-half feet sometimes stomp a bit too hard and break a light bulb in the kitchen below, but it’s a small price for us to pay. I’m thrilled she has found something she is so passionate about.

I recently saw the quote “Dance as if No One is Watching.” I can’t recall whether it was on a refrigerator magnet or a garden stone, but either way the words resonated with me. The words inspire us to indulge our passions without regard to what others might think.

Such wonderful advice.

An age-old piece of advice often given to writers is “Write as if everyone you know were dead.” In a sense, these words are saying something similar to the dance quote. Essentially, both are telling us to do what we would do if we didn’t have to answer to anyone else, if we didn’t have to fear criticism. It’s only by letting loose that we can truly discover all that we are capable of, right?

Yet . . .

Isn’t there some value in criticism, too? After all, if we dance as if someone is watching, might we not strive harder to refine our technique, to put on a crowd-pleasing show, to perfect our skills? If we write as if people we know will read our work, might we not strive to write something impressive, well-crafted, and marketable?

What are your thoughts on this subject? We’d love to hear them!

Diane Kelly's debut romantic mystery - Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure - will be released on November 1st and is available for pre-order now at online booksellers.


krisgils33 said...

okay, so you're weekend sort of mimicked mine. my daughter is in her third year of dance company (she just turned 9), she takes nine classes a week and has 2 solos this season, but THANKFULLY no production numbers. we had our final competition on saturday and i was there from 9 am til about 630 pm, which as you know is one of the shorter days!!! our recital is at the end of june. I've seen these little girls reduced to tears when they mess up, either alone or in a group where they think they have disappointed their friends. they shrug off the disappointment, resolve to do better next time, and they go back out there time and again for the love of performing.

Diane Kelly said...

They learn so much from the dance experience other than dance, don't they? Teamwork, persistence, emotional maturity, and how to apply lipstick and eyeliner. All very important skills. : ) And, you're right, a mere 9 1/2 hours at a competition is nothing. : )

Have fun at your recital next month! Two solos? That's wonderful!!! Break a leg!!!

Robin Kaye said...

I've been doing the dance thing for 12 years now. It's great for boys and girls alike and I can't imagine Twinkle Toes (my 15 year-old ballerina) if she didn't dance. To her, corrections are a compliment. In her dance school--a school that feeds NY Ballet, ABT, San Francisco Ballet, If you're not getting corrections, you're not doing well. It's weird to hear her get excited when Marcia give her corrections, she's overcome with glee if she's told that she's done well. "I got a good from Marcia today!"

For writing--I think you should write your first draft like no one is watching. When you revise or rewrite, then have that editor looking over your shoulder.

My family tends to dance in the kitchen--that's when you dance like no one is watching. I'll grab my kids or husband and dance with them while the pasta's boiling. We were at my friend's new house for the first time yesterday. My son and I were in the kitchen and he noticed that my friend had a moveable island. He said, "Hey Mom, the island moves so there's enough room to dance!" God, I love that he noticed.

Christie Craig said...


The saying is in a song, too. I love it. I try to live by the advice.

Great post!


Diane Kelly said...

My daughter's dance instructor is the same way as your daughter's, Robin. There's no empty praise. When she tells a dancer she's done well, the dancer knows she really earned it and it truly means somthing and feels soooo good!

Christie - I'm going to look for the song on itunes. Thanks for the heads up! I hardly ever get to listen to music anymore because my commute time (when I used to jam out in my car) is now my "plotting and planning" time.

Brandy said...

My daughter doesn't take dance, she takes Karate and has for three years now. She works hard at karate and takes her teachers criticism well. She beams happily when he tells her she's doing well and for that? Well, the constant driving to classes, all day competitions, injuries and cost (whew-weapons are not cheap!)(She has a pair of Sai's and katana-and can I say it's cool to have a Daughter who can wield a sword!) are worth it.

And I've been known to dance around the kitchen while making dinner. *g*