Perform With Your Heart, Not Your Feet

Deep in my imagination with butterflies in my belly

As a dancer, there are so many perks to my job it is hard not to love it. I am able to do something I am so passionate about that also encourages me to constantly develop and learn. So considering all these positive aspects of a life as a dancer I wouldn’t want to choose the most important, but at the end of the day, the main goal in this profession is to put on a show. Everything I do, from training and rehearsing to eating well and taking care of my body, is all for that. I love many elements of my work but performing has to be the best part of the job.

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Dancing Fräulein Bürstner in Davide Bombana’s ‘Der Prozess’ (Photo: Admil Kuyler)

Just the fact that after all your hard work there is an audience applauding for you. Who wouldn’t want that? It is truly a great feeling. And for me, it is not the only part that brings me the joy. With every performance I have done, and mainly when dancing principal roles, I marvel at the thought of having taken people to a different world, if only for a couple of hours. From their ordinary lives, they are transported into a place filled with beautiful music and beautiful movement; all the hardship or struggles of life can be forgotten about. And being on stage takes me to that same place with them. This is what makes it so much fun. I can take myself to another world where I really become the character I am dancing.

This is another aspect of dancing that elates me, when I can become someone else, telling their story through artistry. At school, I always loved drama and even now I can very easily get lost in my big imagination. So I think that is why I enjoy the acting side of dance so much. Yes, we work for weeks and weeks to perfect the actual dance steps and of course, I want to do those ‘perfectly’, but in my eyes, it is not perfect unless you tell a story with them. It is so magical for the audience, when the dancer can transform into the elegant swan, or the playful fairy, or the suffering mother. The deeper the character the better. When I dance, I aim to put my whole heart into it and believe I am that person from the inside out. Then (hopefully) the steps just come.

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Becoming Anastasia in Youri Vamos’s Dornröschen-Die Letzte Zarentochter (Photo: Admil Kuyler)

Unfortunately, like all jobs, there are parts I don’t enjoy as much and in this profession, it will always be the nerves. Even after performing for 6 years I still get those butterflies in my stomach before a show. I have learned to deal with them much better, and this comes with experience, so while dancing they don’t bother me so much and I can enjoy the performance. However, if there are any difficult movements in the piece I find myself doubting my ability to do them well. I think that is something I am always trying to improve, believing in myself and my dancing more. You would think after having danced all I have in my career I would be more confident. I have decided this is part of my personality and I tell myself it is a positive problem which makes me the dancer I am. The nerves add to my will to do everything as good as I can and I need the nerves, plus the excitement to perform at my best.

I try to use my weaknesses in the best way I can and with every performance I try to learn something, improve something and mature as a dancer. No role should just stand still, it should grow and expand and that is why I love doing it. Focusing on the parts I love and working on my weaknesses is the only way forward.

I am also discovering that simply telling myself ‘I can’ really helps.

With love,

Harriet

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Perform With Your Heart, Not Your Feet

  1. This is such an inspirational post. It is something that is so important to remember and a great lesson to learn! Thank you for sharing this! I will definitely think about performing differently this weekend. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so glad I inspired you and my experiences can help yours. I am still learning as I go and with each performance something new comes out of it. What are you performing? Toi toi toi and I hope your heart was filled with happiness as you did it xxx

      Liked by 1 person

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