Houston Dance Photographers Offer a Perspective
Performance Over Perfection
It is no secret that the life of a dancer involves the desire for perfection. It is hard not to become obsessed with what is considered “perfect,” but as Houston dance photographers, we would like to say that we think this focus and energy can be better placed elsewhere. After seeing so many dancers leaning toward the self-critical, we have come to an interesting point to consider: which is more important, perfection or performance?
As Houston dance photographers, we are used to seeing people from all walks of life being self-critical in front of the camera. It’s difficult not to be. Modeling can actually be one of the most challenging jobs, and dancers are some of the most exceptional models because of their acute bodily awareness.
“By performance, we mean the act of letting go and feeling the movements and truly becoming one with your dancing. “
However, when our studio began photographing dancers, it was immediately apparent that the level of personal criticism was much higher than that of standard photography sessions. From this, we came to realize that as a community, there are some misunderstandings that cause some of the greatest young talents to lose confidence in themselves. In other words, as a dancer, is it more important to be “perfect,” or is it more important to truly perform? To start, let’s break down the differences of both.
Being “perfect” does not refer to technique, rather, we are referencing the impulse to be self-critical when seeing yourself dance. By performance, we mean the act of letting go and feeling the movements and truly becoming one with your dancing.
“Sophia Glagoleva said in her post: ‘…I want everyone, wherever you are, to tell yourself that you are fine just the way you are, and if you do really want to improve on yourself, don’t do so by bringing yourself down and saying that you are less.'”
So then, which is more important? It is doubtful that any dancer reading this would argue it is more important to be needlessly self-critical of oneself. It is much more likely instead that a dancer would support the idea that it would be freeing to truly let all the “Do I look good enough?” worries go, and to simply perform; to let dance effortlessly take you where you need to go, and to let go of the doubts that hold you back from connecting with your talent.
A young dancer from the Houston Ballet Academy we recently worked with wrote a beautiful message about this very topic on Instagram. Sophia Glagoleva said in her post: “…I want everyone, wherever you are, to tell yourself that you are fine just the way you are, and if you do really want to improve on yourself, don’t do so by bringing yourself down and saying that you are less.”
“…your greatest strength as a dancer is the exact reason why you’re insecure: your uniqueness.”
Some of the greatest young talented dancers we’ve seen in recent years carry the burden of this. In the age of social media and constant comparisons, their faith in themselves has been shaken. We are here to tell you that your greatest strength as a dancer is the exact reason why you’re insecure: your uniqueness.
If you feel small in comparison, remember what separates you from the rest. You are all unique, you are all hard-working, and you will all achieve the greatest goals you set out for yourselves. Accepting who you are and what makes you distinct is the first step to accepting the power that you have.
“We have seen an entire studio light up after seeing an image. Even if a dancer hadn’t originally liked an image, just seeing the reaction of everyone in awe by their abilities often allows them to recognize how amazing they actually are.”
By the same token but on a bit of a lighter note, this is also where we find our confidence. When a dancer comes to the studio, it is one of our greatest joys to be their mirror. We have live monitors in the studio that show every photo as it is being taken and we can see dancers’ faces light up when they see themselves in action. It is so powerful for us. It’s also helpful for the dancer because they can self-correct their technique, along with our dance instructor on-set guiding them and tell us what they’re not liking. This ensures we capture them in their truest essence in a way that they feel confident about.
We have seen an entire studio light up after seeing an image. Even if a dancer hadn’t originally liked an image, just seeing the reaction of everyone in awe by their abilities often allows them to recognize how amazing they actually are. We then end up seeing them slowly become less self-critical and more involved in the emotion of the performance. Their face lighting up and their joy by the end of the session is the magic part for us.
The truth about perfectionism is that like performance, it’s a mindset. When it is your chance to dance, you have to make a decision: Are you going to be in your head today, or are you going to get lost in the art of your performance? You get to make that decision. Of course, your technique matters, but in terms of how you see yourself and whether or not you feel “good enough” that day, it is crucial to consider if that is actually serving you? Change the mindset and dance. Take on the mindset of the brilliant performer you are and choose that every day. Embrace the mistakes and take joy in the process.
“Remember, the content you follow is what people will to continue to make. Let’s all start following content that actually makes us happy and uplifted.”
If you’re generally finding it hard to shake the self-critical thoughts, some great starting points are to try changing up your social media feed by following more inspiring and uplifting content or try going outside and being connected to the very imperfect world around you. We know you already know this, but try doing one of these today, or on a day where you’re feeling the most self-critical, and you will see a large improvement in your mood and self-esteem.
Additionally, take deep breaths. There is no doubt your dance teacher has taught you the power of breathing. Deep breathing, along with the practice of being still and tuning in with yourself are known to significantly improve anxiety and overall wellbeing.
Next, go outside! Take a walk along the bayou. Or rent a city-bike and feel the wind in your hair. Take yourself out of negative mindsets by jumping into activities that will make your body and mind feel nurtured. Read a book at the park and come back to yourself with stories that make you feel courageous or inspired. Let your imagination run wild, then come back to your dancing refreshed. Be gentle with yourself.
Furthermore, change up how you use social media. When you find yourself beginning to feel negative about the content that you’re looking at, get rid of it. Find accounts online that improve your mood instead. Look for accounts that build up your self-esteem and remind you of your inherent worth. Remind yourself who you are and of everything you’ve accomplished and identify what will re-center you. Social media can be a healthy and potent tool if you cultivate your own positive environment. Learn how to use that unfollow button with no remorse. Remember, the content you follow is what people will to continue to make. Let’s all start following content that actually makes us happy and uplifted.
Next, and our personal favorite, have a photoshoot. Do a DIY iPhone shoot with you and your closest friends or pull out the drama in a Creative Session with us Houston dance photographers. We have seen first-hand how much joy capturing yourself in your element can bring. “Feeling yourself” can be a powerful way to boost your confidence as you see the culmination of your talent and hard work.
“Finally, the health of your mind is just as important as the health of your body. “
Finally, the health of your mind is just as important as the health of your body. Eat often and well. Be gentle with yourself. Remember that your uniqueness makes you great. Keep your chins up, dancers. Dance like nobody’s watching and feel the strength you have given yourself through all of your sweat and hard work. Lastly, remember to always embrace your power and honor yourself in the process.
Want to capture your dancing?
We can capture your unique personality and style. We have Sessions for dance auditions as well as Creative Sessions, which offer a large range of diverse options.