I could write a book about this (and I should) but my approach to teaching writing and dance is to begin by fostering what I call the “performative impulse” through what I call “targeted validation.” In other words, I give students strategic compliments so that they not only want to continue working and trying, but they also develop a sense of themselves as possessing skills. They get the encouragement and empowerment to develop through their interactions with an audience with an eye for their own positive abilities.

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Bad habits tend to fade away until we reach a point I call “capability eclipse” which is the point at which a person (despite being imperfect–if perfect were even a thing) finds that their abilities overshadow any “flaws” and allow them to find success. We’re all good at some things and could use improvement at others. We can agree on that but even that assumes a certain universality to ability that simply doesn’t hold. Every “master” could have weaknesses, as perceived by some critic. But my view is that life is complex enough that if you cultivate an ability, strength, or gift in a subjective field (such as writing or dance), your weaknesses are simply overlooked or quickly forgiven. If weakness is even a relevant category. You don’t need to be perfect; just effective. And that’s powerful.

In other words, select FOR positive traits, rather than selecting AGAINST the negative. (I borrow that theory from biological systems theory).