I have just watched a clip of St Petersburg dancer, Polina Semionova Everything is perfection; a symbiosis of music, body and movement. A woman dances, alone, on the stage of a deserted theatre. The shapes she makes are precise, lucid, definite. There is a moment when she notices something beyond the camera, stops, almost collapses, but then resolves to stay strong, but draw away. She seems to be telling a story about freedom she is embracing abandonment or relishing solitude. Her confidence grows until she finally soars.
In ballet there appears to be no room for error. This young woman has only perfection as her benchmark. However, there is more to her performance. I am unable to comment on her technical skill, but the first thing I notice is flow. Polina Semionova is completely at ease inhabiting the movement. It is as if the dance is dancing her were such a thing possible. Effort and strain are absent. She is making nothing happen; it is just happening. The second noticeable thing is her enjoyment. Her face is ablaze with pleasure. There is nothing aloof about this dance; it is impish, mischievous, joyful almost to a point of overflowing.
In discussions about ballet with our son, we talk about striving less and releasing more. We ask him what would happen if, like Polina Semionova, he let the dance happen to him. He replies that on those days when he yields to a flow he is less tired after class and he is corrected less by his teacher. But, the urge to impress is great. The impulse to push for approval is inherent. Release seems counterintuitive. The old habit must be inhibited while the new habit moves from intellect to body. He is trying to try less. A paradox.
At the weekends we strive. We are together as a family for such a short time just Saturday afternoons and Sunday. This time feels fragile. I want our time together to be perfect. We make arrangements and plan ahead, often filling the weekend with too many treats: films, walks, Pizza Express, meeting friends, trips to the ballet. We want to savour every second. He just wants to rest. Sometimes we notice our error, and plans are changed. This feels like it has all gone wrong; I've let everyone down. In my head, it's catastrophic. The time flies too quickly and we have savoured nothing. Sunday afternoon is already here and as dusk falls, the familiar feelings of dread return to my stomach. I try to fill the evening with silliness and carbohydrates: jokes and comfort-food. No one sees that I'm concealing my inner reality and it is costing me considerable effort. I fear that I am failing.
Next weekend, I'm going to strive less. I'm not going to fill the time with activities. I am not going to aim for perfection. I just intend to make myself available to all of them the children and their mother. I will find the flow and the joy. It will take some effort: trying to try less.
P.S. My Mum replied by email to the "Could you make it funnier?" blog
"... interestingly I enjoyed your intense ones more. No pleasing some people!"
Or, perhaps, sometimes we try too hard.