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The Mirror: Friend or Foe?

by Maxine Patronik

in community

In March, I took a Gaga master class with Noa Zuk, a former Batsheva Dance Company member. One of the major differences in this style is that there are no mirrors used. I walked into a studio with sheets and drapes patching up the wall length mirror I am so used to. Maybe it was a combination of this with the format and style of the class, but I really liked it. I didn’t obsess over technical things like whether my foot was turned out or not, or how my body looked that day. It was refreshing, and eye opening.

Edgar Degas -- The Dancing Class (1871) via Cea on Flickr

Edgar Degas — The Dancing Class (1871) via Cea on Flickr

This really got me thinking about the role of the mirror in dance. I think that as dancers, we are so used to wanting to perfect every single thing we don’t like, whether that is our technique, body, even the way our leotard looks. We can be so vain! I have had many teachers who repeatedly tell our class to stop looking at ourselves so much in class, because onstage there are no mirrors and you will have to look out at the audience.

Mirrors aren’t all bad though. They can definitely be helpful in fixing placement and being able to see what you are doing wrong physically. And in very crowded situations, you can use them to see what the teacher is demonstrating!

There are times in class where you are supposed to look front, towards the mirror. This doesn’t mean that you should stare yourself down. Yes, this can be really hard to do, especially if you are facing directly front. I try to remind myself to look past the mirror, and I like to focus my gaze slightly upwards, rather than directly front, and I think of looking out, as if I was onstage.

This whole issue with mirrors really comes down to self-confidence and self-esteem. If you are not feeling the best about yourself or your body, chances are you will be looking at the things you wish were different, rather than focusing on the good. Stop this madness! You can’t dance your best if you are constantly self-conscious! As one of my old teachers would say, “Beauty, Elegance, and Confidence!

This is my opinion on mirrors in dance class, and I would love to hear what you think about them too. Do you think they help us, harm us, or both? (Honestly, I don’t have a solid answer to this question, so it’s okay if you don’t either!) Leave a comment below to share.

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