A few weeks ago, I was at an event at the Dutch National Ballet where as part of a small group I experienced something unique – a choreographer working with the dancers. We were told that such an interaction between a choreographer and dancers is something which rarely happens in front of an audience, no matter how small, because it’s a very intimate experience for the choreographer and the dancers.
It was only when I took my seat and observed the interaction that I realized that those were not just words. There was a lot of vulnerability involved in the process.
The choreographer asked somebody from the group to give him a word. The woman chose “sadness” and the choreographer together with the dancers built a short performance around it.
We watched how one word, just like a seed when planted in a nourishing soil, grew into a story.
The choreographer asked the ballerina to push the ballet dancer away. After she did that, the choreographer went to her and asked her to give us the story, why she was pushing him away.
In my imagination “the story” he asked for was easily half an hour conversation between the two dancers. Then I realized that there are no words in ballet so I simply watched how she pushed him away again.
The only visible difference was a tiny move, so tiny I’m wondering whether I imagined it. The experience for me however as someone in the audience changed drastically. I could feel the pain, the anger, the heartbreak. Just like that, without a single word, without even knowing what the “story” was, I was transported to a place where there were two lovers and everything else disappeared.
It was surreal.
There is a difference between what you do and why you do it. There is a difference between a ballerina pushing a dancer away (the "what") and a woman pushing her lover away (the story, the "why").
There is a difference between calling someone and calling someone to tell them you love them. These would be two very different conversations.
I personally often get lost in setting goals, measuring achievements and reviewing to-do lists. That's a lot of “what"s.
Yet it’s only when I know my "why" that all of it makes sense and most of all I have the tenacity to continue despite what life throws at me.
It’s only when I remember that I don’t sell skincare, that I help women find confidence and beauty within, that everything changes for the better. It shows in what I do and I'm sure you feel it too.
Many people are busy with New Year’s resolutions. Others are reviewing the past year. Some are busy with both. I hope that this story would help you remember to look for the "why" too when you work on your New Year's resolutions, when you get out of bed and start going through your to-do list. When you go to pick up your child from school.