A word I hear a lot is “perfectionist”. “I’m a perfectionist, I always take time to refine this or that detail”. Some people argue hastily that perfection does not exist. I beg to differ, one can create a perfect square, a perfect line, a perfect red. But can you attain perfection, a flawless execution, in performing arts?

Can you be a perfectionist in ballet?

“Perfection” sounds like something rigid, fixed, a picture taken of something that should never be touched or altered because it has reached that ultimate state.

Ballet is an art in motion, and I feel that excellence, rather than perfection, is what artists should strive for. Excellence is not a state to reach. Excellence ’s a mindset and a process. Excellence involves to continuously look for improvement. Isn’t it what we are aspiring to as ballet dancers, to endlessly stretch the limits?

What is excellence ?

In the dictionary, excellence is defined as the “quality of being outstanding or extremely good. The quality is far above and beyond what you can usually find.” Excellence is rare!

Excellence does not mean that there are no flaws, so it is not perfection. Excellence is outstanding, it’s mind blowing, it’s exceptional. Excellence makes you stand up on your feet and shout “encore”. We all know excellence on stage. What about in our everyday life?

To reach excellence on stage, you want to start implementing skills to achieve excellence in your daily life. You want to hone that skill of aiming for excellent results all the time. This way it will become a habit, the way you do things and you’ll be recognized as a person of excellence.

How to nurture excellence as an artist?

If you are interested by the topic, I invite you to watch the Masterclass “World-class artists’ skills to excellence” by Ross Ridenoure and Ondine D. exclusively for Core de ballet. Ross Ridenoure has over 30 years of experience leading teams and management staff to excellence and his insight from various fields other than classical ballet is eye-opening. The Masterclass is available as a rental or within your subscription plan.

Achieving excellence as an artist starts with a simple mindset change: no matter what I do, I will aim at the best quality I can produce. When you aim for excellence there is little to no room for excuses. From now on your vocabulary will change and sentences like “there was traffic”, “I did not have time to learn the choreography before”, “she did not send me the form” will rarely be spoken.

Excellence in your daily life implies to behave like the person you wish you were interacting with, becoming the person who does things as expected and goes the extra mile. By creating this environment, you are raising the barre and you are getting noticed as a person of excellence

What are skills to excellence common among world-class artists?

In a recent conversation for the Mentor de ballet program, Naira Agvanean (Soloist at the Dutch National Ballet) mentioned that she recently came to the conclusion that artists who were cast the most, artists who were improving in their career had a different mindset and a different attitude at work. They had a mindset reaching for excellence.

World-class artists believe in themselves. This does not mean that they think they are the best in the world. This mean they have developed a sense of self-confidence and trust that they can achieve what they set their mind to. So if they get cast for a coveted role, of course they might feel stress, and their inner voice also says “this is your chance, you can do this, let’s get to work”.

World-class artists have a positive outlook on events. This does not mean that they are never sad or shaken. They feel all range of emotions as anyone else, and they apply perspective to quickly learn from the current situation and move on. Every situation is an occasion to learn and grow: learn how to manage difficult people, learn how to cope with sad events, learn how to communicate with a team or a superior, learn how to… You get the point!

World-class artists do not settle for what they currently do. With a positive outlook, they keep practicing and look for ways to make it even better. It is done with a sense of curiosity: is there another way I could make this even better? Rather than a sense of dissatisfaction, i.e. “this is not good enough, let’s try something else”.

Featured photo of Denys Cherevychko and Olga Chelpanova by Ondine D..