Nadira Jamal sent an email out to her list this week, and it was one of those things — well, quite frankly, it was one of those moments when it seems someone you’ve never met read your mind and decided to give you a good talking to. It’s called “Everything Else is Gravy: Why we need mere competence, not excellence,” and before you read further, you should just watch it here:
My confession: only a few days before this video came out, I had posted something a bit negative on facebook about my dance talent, or rather, my lack of dance talent. The truth is, I don’t even think I’m the worst. But I don’t have those years of ballet training, and there are certain things in dance — like staying on beat or learning choreos — that take so much work. Listen, I’m human. Sometimes when I look at the stretchy thin people who can already layer a shimmy onto a basic step in releve, I start to wonder what it is I’m doing.
The thing that was really new to me in Nadira’s talking to was this: she points out that sometimes, being too much of a perfectionist can keep you from learning and becoming better. The example she gives is thinking you need to be a top-notch performer before you perform, when really there are many performance skills you have to learn on the stage, by doing. I had to wonder how Nadira got in my head. I’ve taken classes for years, but only had my first real, proper, not just futzing around performance a few weeks ago. And you know what? As Nadira pointed out, it went okay for what it was. It was a student performance, I magically remembered the choreo, I had a big dumb grin on my face for most of it — I need to learn to appreciate that and feed off of it for the next time.
Years ago, I had a Tim Gunn bobblehead doll that stood on my desk and said “Make it Work” when I needed a little more motivation in my work. I think now I need a Nadira Jamal doll that says “It’s Gravy!” when I bring it along to dance class!