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A lesson in vulnerability

This last week I sat down with my heels class to talk about performance....

"How can I get more performance out of you?"

We talked about character.

We talked about emotion.

We talked about feeling.

We talked about story.

We talked about costumes.

We talked about lighting.

We talked about what famous dancer they could picture performing the piece.

And then someone said, "In order to open up and show true emotion on and off stage you need to be vulnerable."


I was really blown away with how mature and raw this comment was. Yes! I couldn't agree more! Although I hadn't really thought of it in that way before... nervous and scared, yes. But vulnerable? Not so much. But why hadn't I? It's just such a scary place to be I guess. Yet it's an incredibly beautiful place to live, when in the right place and with the right people. Especially on an artistic platform.

That word vulnerable rang in my ears for a few days after.... for a couple reasons.

1. It made me think about the times in my life that I have felt most vulnerable.

2. I was questioning if I was creating a space where my students felt safe enough to feel vulnerable.

There has been so many times in my life that I've felt vulnerable, in my personal and professional life. Thinking back, I know why that word is so hard for me to hear (as it may be for you too) ; usually we remember the times that we've been hurt while vulnerable.... right? Arg. Not a super fun thing to experience and the more you get hurt the harder it is to let ourselves be vulnerable again.

I'm going to share an ah-ha moment about vulnerability with you....

It's about the time I started acting class for the first time. I was so nervous... and felt vulnerable!! I had already been on movie and TV sets for a few years at this point dancing but the thought of memorizing lines and talking in front of people had me totally out of my element.

I LOVED the show Friends and all I wanted to be was "Rachel" on a sitcom. So I was pointed in the direction of this particular acting school run by Lesly Kahn that specialized in comedy. So here I am in my first class, totally freaked out. But the first thing that came out of my teacher John's mouth was...

"Dare to suck"!

I thought, "Ok good, cuz I probably will!!" Hahahahaha!! But just by hearing those words I was able to breath again. He gave me permission to go up there and totally bomb. Better yet, it was encouraged! I got lot's of notes and direction throughout the class but I believe I grew as an actress way faster in an environment where I could explore wrong ways to then find what felt good.

I strive to create that sort of environment for my dancers.... the freedom to explore characters and perform in new ways. I hope that they will go way outside outside their comfort zones and trust me and the other dancers around them to do so.

Trust. That's huge.

Ah-ha! That's my answer. I need to earn more trust to make them feel more comfortable so they can be vulnerable and dare to suck!

I'm not saying it's going to be easy. Being vulnerable takes strength, courage and self awarenesses. But together we are going to learn and grow.

Life goals.


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