Mess: Life Lessons from Dancing

Brainstorming with a young dancer pal for an upcoming performance provided unexpected treasure recently.  As the organizer of the event, I’ve created some plans and parameters for the work, which has structure and is also to be largely improvised.

Some plans and parameters will be beneficial, and even important.  Too many will choke the dance.

As the variables for this outdoor performance have been mounting, I’ve felt increasingly unsettled by how the uncertainty may play out.  The weather, limited rehearsal time, condition of the terrain, audibleness of the music, dancers’ comfort with each other and the parameters–they’re all in flux. Chaos! And so I mistakenly fell into the old trap: broadly exerting [the illusion of] control.

It took my buoyant collaborator to help me realize how I had gone astray, and also how I was missing buckets of possibility by over-managing the situation.  When his eyes lit up as he spoke about how he adores messiness, how it presents an exciting challenge to work with the chaos, find his way out of it or create something with it, his relish was infectious.

Yes, he’s spot on!

I was suddenly yanked back to recognizing how going with the flow amidst uncertainty would allow the pieces to breathe, to grow. How vast the possibilities will be when we combine such beautiful, skilled dancers, a stunning venue, outdoor artwork, an inquisitive audience, wonderful music.  Nothing I could try to set in stone will come close to the synchronicity of the moment if I step back and allow it all to unfold with a minimum of constraints.

Sure, fear and a sense of vulnerability have slunk back in here and there, since our brainstorming, aiming to lure me back to more rules and structure. Each time this happens, I stay my hand.  Opening it, instead, to the magical processes of collaboration and creativity.  And inviting that magic to flow through all of us–the venue, the dancers, the audience-to create a moment of one-of-a-kind beauty and connection.

Ditto for everyday life :).



Top photo courtesy of Christina Goldberg; Sculptures: Gil Boro

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2 Responses to Mess: Life Lessons from Dancing

  1. Every time I take a lengthy trip into Mexico, I have a vague plan. And then it changes. The fastest change came on a trip into east central Mexico.
    We’d planned a good route for the first day. I was looking at the map while my friend drove when I found a back road that avoided the city. A few minutes later, she’d turned onto that road. We followed a narrow, sinuous highway through astoundingly gorgeous country with very old hand-stacked, morterless, rock walls. And the bonus, we missed the big city all together!

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