Editor’s Letter: Redefine Perfection

Lamb with Federico Bonelli in "Don Quixote"
Lamb with Federico Bonelli in “Don Quixote” (photo by Johan Persson, courtesy ROH)

When asked to describe our cover girl Nathalia Arja, fellow Miami City Ballet dancer Ariel Rose put it like this: “Dancers are so often focused on doing every step right, but Nathalia has the ability to laugh at herself and to accept that making a mistake is part of being an artist.” In fact, the 22-year-old Arja’s self-assurance and fearless attitude have undoubtedly helped her accumulate an impressive list of lead roles and a recent promotion to soloist.

She’s someone we can all learn from. How many of us have agonized over some misstep, or a physical or technical flaw that puts perfection just out of reach? Striving towards the unattainable ideal is part of what drives dancers to reach their personal best. But obsessing over our limitations can be counterproductive. In her essay “In Pursuit of Perfection,” writer Laura Jacobs explores the idea of perfection in dance, and points out that history’s most acclaimed artists—the ones who’ve set the bar for the rest of us—were anything but. If you’re still not convinced, turn to “My Biggest Imperfection,” where five stars candidly reveal their self-perceived flaws and how they came to terms with them.

Learning how to make the most of your limitations is part of every dancer’s training process. But this issue also aims to help you reach your goals. In “Fresh Corrections,” three master teachers offer new ways to rethink run-of-the-mill phrases like “don’t tuck” and “square off”—because sometimes all it takes is one word or image to instigate a dance-changing “aha” moment. And for those struggling with their pas de deux, “Partner Trouble” is essential reading. See why honing your communication skills—and having a little self-awareness—can take your partnership to the next level.
Remember, we’re all works in progress—and that’s a good thing. We wouldn’t be distinctive artists otherwise.

Also in this issue

Sarah Lamb’s advice for aspiring professionals: “Don’t focus too much on ballet. So many people limit themselves and think ballet is all there is, but the more you realize there is much else, the more fulfilled you’ll be.”

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