[StageMinded Story] Kathryn McCormick on Purpose
When to be hard on yourself as a performer
Handling the exposure of critiques and reviews
What would you do if you could fail?
What the ballet world really needs [on World Ballet Day]
Today is the first ever World Ballet Day!
I’m looking forward to the glimpses I’ll get of that rare blend of focus, fun and fragility in these beautiful people, the similarities and differences in the ballet world the world over and the stirring of the memories and stories and experiences I hold in my own heart being part of this world of ballet.
In my work now as a counsellor and performance psychology teacher, I get to see another very personal side of the behind-the-scenes dancer. I have the very humbling privilege of walking with dancers in their real-life-streaming realities – sometimes tears stream, sometimes it’s untapped thoughts and feelings, at other times life begins to stream again after burnout, injury and loss.
In holding the hopes and hearts of these precious dancers closely, here are my three biggest dreams for the Ballet World today…
Reframing Failure in 5 Baby Steps
So, you’re in ballet class, pirouettes from the corner. Chasse pas de bourree, prepare…
You almost do a nice clean double, except for an annoying little hop at the end. Slightly frustrated, you grit your teeth and tell yourself “get it right next time” as you chasse pas de bourree and prepare for the next turn.
More of a hop, plus you lose your placement.
You sneak a sideways glance at your teacher to check if they noticed your blunder… Phew, you got away with it.
Chasse pas de bourree, prepare…
This time you fling way off balance and your turn is a total write off. You walk away with your head down, pretending you twisted your ankle to avoid facing the terrible reality that… (gulp) you failed.
Your teacher calls out a correction to you. You feel even worse. Nod pathetically and hope they won’t make you repeat it.
Inside, you’re frustrated and angry at yourself, “Why can’t I do this? I’m so crap at turning! This is so humiliating! I’m never going to be able to turn!”
Eventually, you become so afraid of stuffing up your turns that you get all tense and edgy even just thinking about doing a pirouette!
The trouble is, you’re looking at failure all the wrong way.