Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The Talent-less

You can go ahead and say that we're good at what we do. If anything, we love to hear compliments like that to give our egos a boost every now and then but do not ever, EVER, call us talented.

'Talent' is such a dangerous word to throw around. Most people harmlessly mean it as a compliment but calling it talent in subtle ways disregards the hundreds of hours we dedicate to our craft to get as good as we are. I'm a dancer and truthfully, performances are a thankless job. Quoting a friend, "For every minute on stage, we spend 10, maybe 20 hours preparing for it," and people who are not quite acquainted with performing arts don't appreciate that fact. Most, if not all the time, great performances aren't the product of talent, they're the product of hard work.

I'm not saying that there's no such thing as talented people. Any and every field has their fair share of people who are talented but being good and being talented couldn't be more different. Talented people may be able to catch choreography faster than you, they may require less practice to be as clean, they may be able to do tricks and stunts that you can't but even talented people aren't good automatically. It is also important to realise that the lack of talent is by no means a barrier to being good.

I think that sometimes, it's important to disregard talent. When you acknowledge talent, you're basically drawing a line between those with talent and those without and if you're on the wrong side of the line, you're essentially screwed. Even if you're on the right side, it's human nature to look upwards, to further subdivide each section into those who are less talented and those who are more talented. We watch Youtube dancers, people like Keone Madrid, Vinh Nguyen, Kyle Hanagami, Brian Puspos and some of us dismiss them as the ultra-talented but at the same time we forget how much of their lives they've devoted to the art they love the most. The hours upon decades that made them into the dancers who they are today. Even choreography is not something that comes out of talent. It has to be grown, nurtured through countless hours of labouring in the pursuit of becoming better

When you stop acknowledging talent, it's easier to motivate ourselves to strive for seemingly unreachable goals. I would grant, realistically there are goals that require talent to be reached but no one can determine the divide between what is reachable by hard work and what can only reached by talent. If we limit ourselves to the bounds of our talent, one day we'll all hit that boundary and just stagnate but if we ignore talent, we stop being chained down by that self-imposed limit. In this world, there will realistically always be unreachable goals but if we keep working towards those unreachable goals, at very least we'll find ourselves better than we were yesterday.

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