Inevitably to be in the business of performing requires a certain amount of talent; that ‘je ne sais quoi’ or ‘X Factor’ as it has become know in popular culture. Sadly however, this unnameable quality is rarely enough and an alchemic coupling of talent and work is really the only way to secure longevity.
I have long thought that the only difference in creating a successful performance is between those who ‘do’ and those who ‘don’t’. Clearly this is subjective to how the individual rates success but those of us who are not much bothered by fame and fortune would settle for something they could showcase and be proud of. I’ll give you a few scenarios.
Let’s say you join a dance class. You struggle to get all the moves whilst some balletic beauty pirouettes with her eyes closed. You ask her how long she’s been dancing after the class and she replies, ‘this is my first time’. You’re in an improvisation workshop and stressing about what to present in three minutes time, when the natural born actor next to you steps into the space and has everyone in stitches marvelling at his comedic genius. You look on in wonder, knowing he’s been sat perfecting his quiff in the reflection of his Blackberry for the past half hour. This is known as ‘winging it’.
Aside from the people who can actually wing it are the people who wish they could. I am one of these people. After seeing a good performance (and I suspect that I’m not alone in this), I often enter a brief depressive state: ‘I wish I could make something like that’ – a stupid thing to think, considering that for the most part, I haven’t even tried. I’ve had an idea for a solo performance in my mind for some time now. Have I done anything about it save jot a few notes? No. Am I likely to start devising anytime soon? No. Why not? I don’t have the time between working and all the other stuff I’m doing. Whilst I recognise this to be a truthful statement at this moment in time, I also know it comprises a flimsy excuse to justify my creative inaction. Fact is I just need to get off my backside and work for it.
There is nothing wrong with winging it every now and again if you’re lucky enough to be able to get away with it. But winging it is a risky business. Without real work to hone their skills, the ballerina and actor in the examples above will soon be outshone by their not so naturally gifted peers who have quickly caught up and outrun their performative prowess through sheer determination.
In reality, talent doesn’t make a jot of difference – only effort marks a successful performance. Talent is really just the cherry on top.