Recently, I received an email from University of Wyoming’s Margaret Wilson about a student’s critical essay on my book, Finding Balance (Wilson has used the text for awhile in the Department of Theatre and Dance, and has students review it with critical essays). Professor Wilson sent one such essay to me, written by Lindsey Carter. With Carter’s permission, I note her generous prose, “No matter the metaphor, the title [Finding Balance] notifies the readers that the book in their hands will cover many subjects, finding equilibrium between them all … With such challenging demands, the importance of understanding the needs of the human mind, body, and soul become absolutely necessary…”
Later, Carter notes, “Technique and endurance may make a dancer powerful to watch, but on the inside, self-esteem provides the inspiration. [highlighting is mine].” To Carter’s wise words, I would just emphasize that such overall balance is critical for longevity of career in, enthusiasm for, and/or appreciation of this demanding art form. It certainly doesn’t help that dance critics may be using lenses (of thinness — see my more recent posting on “One sugar plum too many?”—or, of technical tricks) that are narrow and limiting. Sadly, it’s often the off-balance dancers that get noticed.
Finding balance is easier said than done, but reading such thoughtful prose from dancers-in-training (i.e., Lindsey Carter’s), makes me hopeful that, one day, the lenses of common sense, self-esteem, and self-confidence will reign. As Carter says, “…the importance of taking care of one’s body and mind, rather than trying to conform to what the term ‘ballerina’ means to most…” seems to be the hallmark of a healthy dancer – and, perhaps, a breathtakingly beautiful one as well (see for example my discussion of Catherine Cabeen in Finding Balance, or go to http://catherinecabeen.blogspot.com/, or my Seattle Dance feature in the January 2011 issue of Dance Magazine). In the meantime, let’s watch dancer Lindsey Carter to see what purpose of and meaning in movement she will bring to our wide world of dance.