More than Perfect
Black Swan is a movie that sticks with you in a somewhat haunting way for some time after you see it. Its complexity allows it to be viewed on many different levels.
But one of the themes is the desire of the protagonist Nina to be perfect. She practices until her feet are bloody to thoroughly master every jump and spin that she needs to perform the lead role in Swan Lake.
But until the end of the movie when it is too late to save herself she misses out on the emotions that must accompany the technique for it to be successful. Her swan song (so to speak) is the most exquisite performance of her life.
The same concept of perfectionism extends to all the arts. I thought about it even yesterday as Deborah and I played in our “Works in Progress” group. We’re playing the Beethoven horn sonata, a piece that is perhaps the most challenging piano score I have ever attempted. At our last lesson with our coach Bill, he admonished me to play through the mistakes, never dwelling on a missed note. Until yesterday my tendency had been to stop and regroup if I made a mistake. But I finally determined to just keep going and we did. It was far from perfect, but it was by far our best performance of the sonata.
I then went on to play two of Astor Piazzolla’s tangos. Music doesn’t get much more emotional than that. They weren’t perfect either, but it was the hauntingly beautiful tango melody with its somewhat offbeat quality that stuck in my listeners’ ears.
There is no substitute for practice, but at some point the adrenaline of emotion must kick in for dance or music to come alive, to jump off the score.