Monday, November 16, 2009

The paradox of surrender

Once upon a time I was a little girl auditioning for the Royal New Zealand Ballet Company. I had already danced with them in Coppelia and like about a hundred other girls from the Waikato / Bay of Plenty region was now dancing my feet off to be one of nine to take part in The Nutcracker. Looking back, the commitment of my mother was extraordinary. Rehearsals were over 100kms away in Hamilton and every Sunday we'd pile into the car and make the round trip. Driving duties were shared with other similarly committed mums.

The auditions would have made fantastic reality TV. I wonder if they run in the same ruthless way these days - now that telling kids they suck is practically illegal. How many rejected Idol contestants say that their family told them they have a beautiful voice? Yeah, but your family is pig ignorant about pitch, tone, melody and rhythm. Back in'82 the casting director simply taught a dance and all the contenders performed it a few times in lines of about 7 and if you didn't pick it up fast enough they sent you home. If you were fat, they sent you home. Ugly? Home. Crying? Home. I, of course, was not sent home but I had a nerve wracking time making the cut.

Eight girls ranging in age from 8-12 had already been selected and 6 were left in the possibles pool. Everyone else? Home already. The casting director looked at the 6 of us waiting to dance again and said something encouraging, totally appropriate given our tender years, like: "one last time girls, I'm looking for one more dancer and the rest of you can piss off home and forget ever dancing with the RNZBC again."

Up til that point I had been concentrating really hard on remembering the steps and smiling. But I knew, even at 9, that my strategy was clearly all wrong. My Coppelia friends were already through - I was the only one still dancing for my life. I decided, and despite no longer being able to remember simple things like what I'm doing at the dairy I remember this with absolute clarity; I decided to change my approach.

'Just dance.' A little voice inside my heart said 'Just dance. Don't worry about the steps, just feel the music, let go and just dance.'

And dance I did. "We'll take you," said the casting director pointing at me.

Sometimes we are most powerful when we let go, and allow the flow.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love this and it still works today...