Our Strange Relationship With Feet and Perfection
There are 26 bones in the human foot, 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles and tendons. This means that the 52 bones that hold us up, support our weight, and help us perform miracles just happen to compose about 25% of all of the bones in your body.. Well, two extra if you happen to be born with an os trigonum as I was. Since my surgery last summer, I have been interested in and fascinated by the work our feet do and how much unthanked punishment we subject our feet to...especially as dancers. So, this post is a small reminder to thank and love your feet.
Dancers have forever had an interesting relationship with our feet. We demand our feet stand up to amazing abuse, yet are shocked and frustrated when we experience pain. We punish our feet in some amazing and shocking ways, yet when we decide not to wear open toed shoes, we blame our passion of dance for the state of our feet. We envy banana shaped feet and marvel at ankles and toes that are strong and seem to never break.
Dancers, it is time to look at our bodies in a realistic way and yes, that includes looking at our feet and what they do for us. As humans, we often strive for perfection as we perceive it. This is even more true of artists. We strive and demand perfection from ourselves with everything we produce. Is that honestly realistic? What are we telling ourselves and the world when we do this?
Demanding perfection from ourselves is not actually demanding rigor or even working harder for the craft. Demanding and expecting perfection is a true form of vanity and hubris. When we insist on perfection in all we do we are actually telling ourselves and the world that we are not human and we can attain some impossible goal that is called "perfect". No human is, nor can they be perfect. Accept your humanity and learn to love those imperfections.
These "imperfections" are what make you uniquely you. It is what makes you stand out from the masses. What you view as "imperfect" is just the thing that makes you an artist. We are human. Humans are flawed and imperfect and as artists, even our mistakes make beautiful art. I tell my artists that there are no mistakes, only happy accidents.
Pushing yourself to become better is quite different from demanding perfection in ourselves. Demanding perfection is to demand that our humanity be revoked. Pushing yourself to become better and accepting and embracing our humanity enriches the art and pushes it forward. Let's strive to push the art forward.
Praise the dancer beside you with the beautiful banana shaped feet and strong solid ankles. And look at your own miracle body, especially your wonderful feet, and see them for what they are...beautiful!