Monday, May 16, 2011

Writing Thoughts from So You Think You Can Dance

by Dina Sleiman

It's my favorite time of year! Summer, you ask. Time for beaches and pools and amusement parks? Sure, that too. But what I'm talking about is the season for...


This spring I had the pleasure of traveling to Atlanta with my daughter for The Pulse. This is a huge convention for dancers taught by famous choreographers including many of those featured on So You Think You Can Dance. As a former and sometimes current dancer and choreographer myself, I enjoy watching this weekend as much as my daughter enjoys participating in it.

An extra treat for me this year, was that she moved up to the “Advanced Professional” room. The choreography presented in this room really wasn’t much different than that in the “Intermediate” or “Advanced” mega-ballrooms. However, only about a hundred of the thousand or so students made the cut for pro, and so the attitude of the dancers and the teachers was on a whole different level. The teachers spoke to them as dedicated artists who had studied their craft and deserved respect for their many years of hard work. They shared inside tidbits into the industry and the artist’s life.

If you’re not familiar with Mia Michaels, she is a multi-Emmy-award-winning choreographer often featured on So You Think You Can Dance. More than that, she is an incredibly spiritual woman who draws from some deep inner-well most people have never discovered. Year after year on the show, dancers stand before the camera with tears streaming down their faces declaring Mia’s choreography has forever changed their lives. She calls them to crack open their chests and dance from a place deep within.

After teaching an achingly beautiful piece to the “Advanced Professional” group, Mia started sharing from her heart about the dancer’s journey. (Image tear drops on the post, because I’m crying already just remembering that magical moment.) She said that while people have let her down, her body, even performances had let her down, dance was the one thing that had always been there for her. Dance was her bliss. Her breath. Her reason for being. You have to love the dance--the art--for itself. Not for the outer trappings that come with it. You must be willing to find that place of truth and let it pour out.

Then she asked them to break into groups and dance. 

Not just the choreography. They would begin with the minute long piece she taught them, after which they would break into spontaneous movement for another several minutes until the end of the song. As I watched these dancers pouring out their hearts and souls onto the floor through their own shapes and rhythms, it hit me: I could apply every word of that inspiring speech to my writing.

Tears streamed down my face to match those of the dancers upon the floor. It was all I could do not to crumble into full blown sobs.

In that moment, I realized. Publishers will let me down. Sales will let me down. Reviews will let me down. But writing…writing for the pure and unadulterated bliss of stringing words on paper to create a story world, a piece of art…that will never let me down.

More importantly, the marvelous God who has called me to this incredible journey will never let me down.

What is your favorite part of writing? Have you been writing for the sake of writing or for the goal of publication and pleasing others? If you don't write, what area of your life could you apply this sage advice to?

1 comment:

  1. I knew someone would blog around SYTYCD. I love that show too!

    I think writing with an eye to publication and pleasing others can shackle the words. I'm in the process of freeing myself.


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