To be an Imperfectionist.

by Majnuun Music & Dance on April 19, 2014, 2 comments

Imperfectionist Manifesto

The Imperfectionist Manifesto by Melissa Dinwiddie

Whenever I create a new choreography, I really struggle to “finalize” it. I feel it still doesn’t look right, whether it is because the movements don’t seem to go with the music anymore, or I lack the skills, or my movements are not refined or whatever. It just does not look as it should be.

That is a perfectionist in me talking, isn’t it? I have always been a straight A student since elementary school, and I have developed a habit of noticing small flaws and mistakes. Diligently correcting those mistakes earned me 100% on exams, though the process was not fun all the time. So every time I watch a recording of my choreography in progress, I notice my flaws and mistakes, and often flinch. If it is a few days before performance, then I start to stress out.

Today I was listening to a podcast called Creative Insurgents, and it is directed towards artists. In the podcast, I encountered this concept of being an “imperfectionist.” A co-host of the show, Melissa Dinwiddie, who is an artist and musician and does a lot of creative works, was talking about how she was working on becoming an imperfectionist.

It was an epiphany for me.

I looked up Melissa’s blog, and found this article called “The Imperfectionist Manifesto.”

I’ve always known that being a perfectionist is the cause of my stress. So I try NOT to be a perfectionist. But not being something can have a negative feeling. It’s like, giving up on improving something because I should not be a perfectionist. That’s as good as it gets. It feels limiting.

But being an impefectionist is a different feeling. I want to positively become an imperfectionist, and create my art work. Whether it is a great piece of work or crappy one, it doesn’t matter. I create. I create, because I enjoy doing it.

Melissa says,

Ultimate value doesn’t always have anything to do with technical skill.

I find this quote so liberating.

Yes, we always try to improve ourselves, no matter what. I will always work on my techniques, because I want to get better. But the overall value of my performance does not solely depend on how cleanly I make a turn, or how pointed my toe is. It depends also on the feeling evoked in the audience and the experience they go through by watching my performance.

And you never know what they see in your performance.

No matter how “perfect” your performance is to you, there will always be people who love your performance and those who don’t.

We all want to be loved, but it is almost impossible to be loved by everyone.

So in the end, you create your art, no matter what it is, and embrace the imperfectionism.

 

I thought this was a good lesson for me, and it made me feel better about everything I am doing now. Melissa’s article is really nice. I highly recommend you read it, if you are a creative one.

 

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2 thoughts on “To be an Imperfectionist.

  1. I love this post! It makes me so happy to know that other people are finding my Imperfectionist Manifesto useful. Thanks for the mention!

    As a performer (among other things, as you mentioned above 😉 ), I have learned that I am never the best judge of my performances — often when I think I did a terrible job, I’ll get more compliments than when I feel like I knocked it out of the park! As you say, the audience’s experience has so much to do with THEM, and what feelings my performance evoked, which often has nothing to do with how “perfect” I was.

    I think imperfectionism is the most important practice I’ve ever engaged in. Well, except that the MOST important practice is always just getting back on the wagon! I fall off the wagon even when practicing imperfectionism! So I get to practice self-compassion and just get right back on. 🙂

    • Wow, Melissa, thank you for your comment! I was going to email you to share my article with you, but you beat me to it!

      Like you said, this is going to be an ongoing project for me too, with falling and getting back on the wagon. But I know it is going to help me grow not just as a performer but as a person happily pursuing a creative life. 😀

      Thank you for sharing such great work with the world, Melissa. Looking forward to listening to more of your podcasts. 🙂

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