Precious Balance of Perfection

Last Saturday we saw the movie Black Swan.

Natalie Portman is playing this ballerina in New York City ballet company whose life is completely consumed with dance. Although the movie was a disturbing psycho-drama and in many blood dripping scenes I had to close my eyes, I loved the dance scenes so much that I am ready to see it one more time.

As name of the movie gives us the hint, it is the ballet Swan Lake, the company is performing that season and our troubled young ballerina is chosen to play the Swan Queen. Both the White Swan Odette and her evil twin Black Swan Odile.

The story of Swan Lake, probably the most famous ballet music composed in the history, takes place in some Medieval central European setting where princes go to forest for hunting and where young girls dance by the moon and magicians put spells on young girls to turn into swans as soon as the sun rises.

The story is full of symbols- sociological, mythical and spiritual- which I have no intention to dwell on here. However the music  Mr. Tchaikovsky composed sometime in mid 19th century, is so magnificent -yet very simple compared to music composed by his contemporaries- that every time I listen to Swan Lake, I get teary eyed.

I don’t remember how old I was when my mother played the Swan Lake for me. It is highly possible she had played it as a background music while she told me its story before bed. Later, when I was old enough to operate our record player on my own, I kept on playing it over and over until both of my parents begged me to please stop it. Soon our only record got all scratched from my unsteady five year old hands operating the needle and I had to stop.

Knowing my fascination with the music,  my mother took me to watch Swan Lake when Istanbul Opera and Ballet company was performing it in early 1980’s. I had already known the story by heart. (I made my mother tell it to me numerous times). So when my favorite music started and my favorite story came alive through human movement, I was to ready to fall in love with ballet. And that is exactly what happened!

I did not stop taking ballet classes until I left Turkey at the age of 25.  I changed schools, we moved from one apartment to the other, my friends changed, my parents divorced, I had my first period, I fell in love for the first time, I finished high school, started university, fell in love many more times… During all these years, every Tuedsay, Friday and Saturdays I went to Madame Lili’s ballet classes. I know now, Madame Lilie has been one of the major influences in my life.

When I started yoga, expressing oneself through the movement has become exploring oneself through body/mind/ breath. Yet only after watching the Black Swan, the pieces all came together.  Since ballet and yoga are so different from one another, it never occurred to me my childhood love for ballet has transformed itself to a passion for yoga in my life.

What I loved about ballet, more than anything was, its discipline. As oppose to many other children and teenagers, I loved it  that we all had to wear simple black leotards and white tights during our yearly exams. I loved it that most of us kept wearing the same outfit during the rest of the year to simplify the practice. It was in Mme Lilie’s classes I  learned to stay still and not to fidget out of one pose. Again it was there I learned to watch the movement carefully before trying it and observe its effect in my own body. It was there I learned how to focus my gaze, my energy and my mind in to one single channel.

It has been easy for me to transfer the sense of discipline to my yoga practice and later to my teaching. Staying still, concentration, paying attention to detail, these were easy and familiar things for me.

The hard part was -and still is-  the other side of the coin.

The part that requires Letting Go.

In the movie,  super charismatic French choreographer  (played by Vincent Cassel) kept saying one thing to our stuck-up perfectionist young ballerina over and over:

“Control is one part of perfection. The other part is letting go”

My teacher always guides us into a yoga practice that will eventually wake up what is dormant inside of us. I always think it is sprit he is talking about. For waking up the dormant sprit discipline and perseverance are necessary. But not enough. There has to be keen observation,  patience and finally letting go. We can move gracefully and very precisely. Without the component of letting go, sprit cannot express itself freely no matter how much effort has been put out.

Sage Patanjali, talks about the same thing in the first chapter of Yoga Sutras . Two core principles of yoga are abhyasa (practice) and vairagya (non-attachment).

Here is an explanation of these two principles:

Never give up!
Always let go!

Which side is heavier? Where are you losing the balance? The challenge is to balance the scale.
Because it is neither one or the other.
Perfection is in the precious balance of the two…
Take it easy!


Precious Balance of Perfection’ için 3 yanıt

  1. Ozge 25/01/2011 / 7:05 pm

    woowwww ne kadar guzel yazmıssın, ne kadar yakın hisler..:)

  2. nathalie 03/02/2011 / 9:52 pm

    Defne,Congratulations for your book.I completely agree with you and Patanjali:)However I, myself can not understand how to experience it at the same time. But knowing that there is no time in 24 hour sense, I believe anything can be achieved. So, right timing: within our souls.

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