More Vulnerability: Life Lessons from Dancing

Being in performance mode again last week highlighted for me that ever present, and often loathed, human condition: vulnerability.  We human types are constantly “exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.” Yet, we often forget this–or trick ourselves into believing we aren’t so vulnerable.

That’s where the glorious gifts of live performance come in.


When you’re performing in front of another person or a crowd of them, there’s no getting around the fact that you’re making yourself and your fallibility visible.  Sure, the threats of harm may not be dire.  But they can be potent and painful.

Failure, rejection, derision, ridicule, shame.  They’re all possible outcomes when we expose ourselves and what is meaningful to us through our art.  And with dancing, of course, there is the possibility of physical injury–never a fun thing.

Last week’s performances of new work threw in a couple of extra wild cards: dancing with people I had performed with only a little or never before;  co-choreographing the work for the first time…and with another choreographer I am just getting to know.

When I look back on what I wrote previously about the life lessons of vulnerability that performing dance has taught me,  I recognize  “…the familiar, tumultuous stew of fear (or terror), nausea, trembling, uncertainty, dread, coaxing, and, ultimately, commitment.” I also appreciate the tremendous treasures yielded when we open ourselves to possibility.


Perhaps it was due to all of the additional uncertainties and unfamiliar terrain.  Or maybe it’s that I’ve been in this vulnerability practice for awhile.

Whatever the reasons, these performances demonstrated even more clearly for me that when we take the leap our passions urge us to do, we’re so often rewarded with connection with others, inspiration, depth of meaning, exploration on the frontiers of the self, discovery.  I was this time.

Scary?  Absolutely.  Essential to a vibrant life?  Absolutely.

To vulnerability!

Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity….”~Dr. Brené Brown


Photos: Chloe, Linalynn Schmelzer, Marisa Valdiserra–Spectrum Art Gallery


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