INSPIRATION: The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something.
A simple definition for a simple idea, an idea that helps shape us into the people we ultimately become. Most of what we choose to do, especially extracurricularly or artisticly, begins with inspiration. Inspiration can be found all around us. Sometimes it's beautiful, somtimes it's ugly. Sometimes it's so obvious we can't help but see it, sometimes we struggle to find it. To me, the ability to see or feel inspiration is a choice; however, as of late I've been feeling like the generation of today is so desensitized they struggle to find simple inspiration on their own, even when it's sitting right there inside of them. These days, it seems as though young dancers look to external stiumluants in their efforts to be inspired (magazines, movies, videos, youtube, facebook, celebrities). Media and hype help to keep dance in the spotlight, but do little to explain what dance actually is, the kind of work that goes into it, and how it isn't always as fun and exciting as it may seem. The art of dance requires people to people relationships, stimulation, self-actualization, physical contact, conflict, triumphs, fearlessness, and self-expression. The media doesn't do much to nurture these ideas, so we have to instill them within our dancers through class.
It seems like a lot of dancers these days need to be slapped in the face by inspiration to see it, they struggle to see their day to day classes as a place be inspired because they are constantaly overstimulated and aren't satisfied unless they are, making dance technique classes (and probably even traditional school settings) a constant struggle for teachers. Sometimes it seems impossible to get dancers excited about the stuff that actually matters, like feeling their turnout for the first time, or executing that tendu combination perfectly. The youth of today live in a virtual world, they're always getting to see finished products and don't have to be bothered with the processes involved in each. Everyone sees what they want to see, and are easily able to tune out what they don't. Dancers want to hurry up and move forward, be inspired, and do the "inspirational" stuff, yet few understand the time it takes to truly get there, and struggle to realize that if they can't find inspiration throughout the process they will never reach a level of gratification that makes it worth their time.
We live in the age of instant gratification. It's a shame, I personally never felt the need to move faster than I was ready, nor did any of the teachers I work with. In fact, most of us weren't allowed to! I also don't remember having to search for inspiration. I remember being in ballet class completely motivated to just murder the perfect rond de jambe - I was OBSESSED with pressing my shoulders, lifting my chest, closing my ribs, shushing my hips, stretching my feet, working through tendu, and using my port de bras. Completly awe-inspired, I'd watch my teacher do a single perfect rond de jambe, giddy inside, flabbergasted over the precision of it all, the elegance, the heritage, the passion. Today, most dancers can't be asked to be inspired by such things - they think it's ridiculous, don't see the inspiration in any of it. I work with the most beautiful array of professionals out there, I'm immensely inspired by every person on our faculty, why do the dancers of today struggle to be? For more reasons that I can think of, I feel like the process of becoming a dancer is slowly becoming lost in the mix, no longer desired. Students look to their teachers, guest choreographers, and guest teachers to "MAKE THEM DANCERS" as quickly as possible, not realizing that becoming a dancer and artist has as much, if not more, to do with their own ability to self-inspire than anything else because the process is an individual one. I want it to be like it used to be, I want the dancers of today to be accountable, excited, and self-inspired by the challenge of striving for their own individual perfections. They'll then have a true understanding of what dance, and life in general, is all about and will be able to see the value in choosing to find inspiration in almost everything they do.
For those who don't already do it, it's my mission to encourage movement in the dance community, especially locally: try not allowing students to do things they're not ready to do, and don't feel pressured to keep them moving forward unless they've mastered everything you can give them. Don't feel pressured to give in to today's trends, the competitions, the media, the hype. Keep it real. Encourage self-inspiration, demand respect, and stick to your convictions. Afterall, aren't those the qualities that inspire you? If dancers are rewarded only with simple progress they will find triumph in even the smallest of conquests. A stronger individual seeks to inspire, not to BE inspired!