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What is the real motivation to dance?
What is the real motivation of dance? Why do people want to dance? Why do they strive for success in whatever they choose to do? How to get the inspiration to go further? Is it possible to create the performance of a lifetime? How to motivate someone to keep on striving for beautiful things like every artist? In which form of expression should someone bring what’s inside out to the world? How to find the proper educational opportunities?
With questions like this my mind is often occupied. With the future of life and the commitment to something that people do their whole lives. I for example do not know for sure what I want. Everyone should and can find their own path in life. It is a fact that it is possible. The one who searches will always find. I feel like a part of what’s inside of me hasn’t found its form of demonstration yet. It can be words, dance, texts, songs… With any one of these things it’s possible to express something that the other form cannot bring out. Is it possible to combine all these things into one? Of course there should be some kind of specialization, but maybe all of these forms should be available for someone who strives to bring their inner selves to the outer world. What sort of thoughts or experiences is pushing me to write these things, I don’t know. I will look at this text one day when I am in a clearer state of mind and think: such strangeness I have written. I feel I need to find a way bring myself into the state of mind that will be productive and will bring peace and completeness inside my inner self. Is this impossible?
Maybe the constant feelings of incompleteness are the engines which drive the people to new discoveries and development. I have no idea if the state I am in right now is right or wrong. Should it be like this or should I be thinking of other things and be feeling completely different? The results at the competitions don’t worry me too much. It is something else that I am constantly thinking about. Something to do with finding the right slot in life. I know it has to do with dancing somehow. My experience cannot be lost. I am not willing to leave the path I have taken for now. But how to enrich it? How to make it as productive as possible? How to be and feel as complete and developed as possible? These are just some thoughts I felt like sharing.
Watching the performances of great dancers I try to understand what improved from year to year, if it improved. Usually it is not so easy to find what exactly has gotten better. Yes, it changed somehow. But is it better? What are the ones that don’t improve doing wrong? There can be of course very many things that could play a role. There could be a word to generalize the whole thing. If the problems are not physical, I mean sickness or age, then they are mental. Could the reason be that they have lost their interest? Their motivation to strive for farther success because everything is already okay the way it is at the moment. Constant ability to earn a salary for example. Maybe it is because they have suspected that this point in their life would be different. Perhaps more successful. Not accepting the fact that after one achieves a successful result in dance nothing really changes.
At the beginning of a dance career a dancer dreams of the moment of being the world champion. He imagines it to be a special moment. The life will be different: he thinks to himself. Then the moment comes and the next day roses are not falling from the sky as one walks. No one asks for autographs on the streets. The sun does not shine bright every time the yesterday successful person decides to take a walk. Perhaps disappointment takes hold.
For some reason some dancers with titles did not leave a strong mark in the dance world. You don’t hear people talking about their past performances as remembered ones among dancers; you don’t see dancers copying their routines.
Let’s take three retired dancers for example. Paul Killick, Allan Tornsberg and Jukka Haapalainen. Paul Killick managed to leave a certain mark in the scene. He never had a chance to win the Blackpool or World professional Latin title, was usually second. This man is talked about among dancers, his videos watched and admired and his pride and slightly self-oriented charisma will never be forgotten. Alan Tornsberg also stayed in the middle of the pro final for many years and never won a big title against his fellow top 3 competitors in the professional division. His love for Latin American characterization and his hot relationship with his partners on the floor left a strong influence on the dance world.
You can see couples today looking very much like Killick or Tornsberg, not so much like Jukka Haapalainen. Jukka was usually placed in front of the 2 above mentioned dancers. He won Blackpool 4 times. It is the most prestigious title in the world. Was he never understood? I by no means want to say that he didn’t deserve his placing; he’s a very special dancer. Jukka Haapalainen and Sirpa Suutari were top class Pro competitors that won because they produced performances that were good enough to win. Does that mean that being a champion is not enough to spiritually be present in the minds and hearts of all young dancers? To be an inspiration to all of them? I truly have no idea.
Vadim Garbuzov, 1st February 2006
Dear Boris, Please pass on to Vadim. The answers are simple and clear. There is no right and wrong just what is right for you, and what you feel. Follow your heart allways. Believe in yourself. It is the trueth. Regards Glen.
Dear Boris, Vadim,
Thank you for sending me the thoughts of Vadim. I had the chance to explore vadim’s mind as well as my own as a result. wow… I am speechless. It is a very thoughtful work. I have written a response to Vadim’s writing and would like to share it with you as well, as I am fond of deep thinking and sharing it!
Vadim has a mind of activity and analysis, where simple material and surface experience do not satisfy his hunger for a fulfilling inner life.
The realization that external events are not necessarily followed by inner reactions prompt us to question their importance and value. For the most part, I have come in contact with a more shallow type of person than Vadim, who doesn’t see past what is laid out in front of him; especially in the dance world. And this to me was always discouraging and spiritually draining. Vadim’s questioning essay almost brought me to tears, as I was able to relate almost 100%. I never knew Vadim had such concerns about dance and life…and to read them so clear in front of me was a pleasure. It made me realize that my attitude wasn’t as uncommon or as negative as I thought it was. I have been questioning deeply my path and the reason I continue to dance, despite the desire and opportunity to pursue other goal(s). And like Vadim, I too imagined at first that climbing to a high level or even becoming a champion of dance would be grand and satisfying. I soon realized this is not the case. Champions come and go like whispers and are not leading the glamorous lives we once perceived they’d have a right to. Even Hazel Newberry, for many years a world champion seemed instantly forgotten once she discontinued to dance. Discouraging? Perhaps it is at first. But when we inquire further, we come to realize that this is quite the same no matter what great achievements one desires to achieve, be they in academics, sports, whatever. If one aims for the external impact or the “promised” happiness of attaining a certain goal, one can be greatly disappointed. I have experienced this many times. I have always sought after some great goal or another and I still do. I seem to believe that with the achievement of the goal, my emptiness and doubts will be fulfilled. It is not the goal, however, that I am looking for. It is an inner stability, peace and satisfaction that come with self-acceptance that I so vainly seek. I have now learned that only from the inside, can I ever start to achieve my ultimate goal of inner strength. And so I come to wonder “why then, am I spending so much energy and life on getting recognition and admiration from the dance community, when all I truly wish for is a healthy sense of self?
The illusion that we can be accepting of ourselves once we are accepted by those we look up to, can be a mission similar to that of chasing a shadow. You will not please everyone, and at the end of the day you are left with only yourself to answer to. If you ignore yourself and attempt to become what you think others will be pleased with, you are guaranteed to fall apart. You are the only one you should please. There is no satisfaction in other people regarding you as “great”. Maybe at first it is thrilling, but it is a cheap thrill which doesn’t last and leaves you craving more. Becoming world champion may be an end result of a goal to express through the body and music. A love of life may lead to a love of dance, and a love of dance can propel one to become dedicated and persistent. This form of expression can be addictive, and we are endlessly curious how far we can push ourselves to improve or discover “how high we can fly”. Also, there is magic that sparks in the relationship between partner and partner, you & the audience and you & yourself. The by-product is inspiration to others and our own susceptibility to inspiration from others. This inspiration is motivation is thus self-fulfilling, and the dance becomes our vision, rather than 30 seconds on a podium. Once there, those 30 seconds can be a moment to look back at your spiritual journey as a dancer/artist, and you are emotionally involved in the (final) magical moment, where audience, panel, self and partner share in the joy of life and the gifts we are given each day (like the opportunity to dance).
This is what I see as a goal. It is the same physical act of winning we described earlier, but the impact of the event on our inner selves is more than satisfying. It is beyond mere satisfaction. The first place no longer matters. Satisfaction becomes a lifestyle, and anything else that appears is simply a part of a special experience in itself. So who cares whether or not young and old dancers alike talk about us with admiration and jealousy. We are whole, and not with hungry souls. That is what matters. There is no one in the world that can watch a performance of such magic and not be enthralled and moved by it too. Like I said, there are many champions who come and go. It is not the mark that makes the dancer. It is the energy of the mind, and the cultivation of that mysterious, delicate, rare, but truly inbred zeal for love and life each one of us carries.