II. Dance as a Moment in Time

After the competition following my trip to Asia, I worked on gaining back my dance technique at home. In less than a month after the competition, my dance teacher requested I take photos to submit to a dance photo contest.

Taking photos at the studio for the contest
Captured by Wei Li

Particularly, this photo made me doubt multiple times about possible improvement and my status in dance.

I looked at this photo thinking I’M RUINED. THERE IS NO HOPE. I’M TERRIBLE. The belief that I can not dance started growing larger in my head.

The image of my leap half a year ago that set my reference point for comparison.

Just like when I viewed dance videos, every time I saw a photo, I would think I can do better. So seeing a photo of what is far from better and instead worse than before was detrimental on my self evaluation. I had an understanding of what I danced like and that impression of myself was interrupted by a photo of present reality.

Comparing myself to my past self worsened this idea that I can no longer dance. Hopes for improvement were crushed because of how I viewed my photos. I still saw photos and vides as a definition of self. As a result, my thought process seeded a tendancy to give up rather than motivate me forward.

My relationship with photos and videos has since changed. I see them as points of progression.

I suppose I’ve become more resilient to seeing bad dance photos and videos of myself. I’ve come to a point where I understand that photos and videos simply document myself in a specific moment of time.

Progression of splits- Top:Jan 2021, Bottom: Aug 2018

A snippet from a recent dance work at the studio. A video taken as I was learning the dance.

Photos and videos are existant for me to see how to improve or to give me a reference point of my current status. There’s no need to hide the poorly done areas, I will strive for a better next moment of time and if it isn’t better, I shall just try again. There is no need to be shameful of a bad practice or performance video. Focus should be on staying present in each new moment of time rather than grip on to one performance from prior.

It’s important that I lower the stakes of someone seeing a poor photo or video of my performance. I am not defined by what is captured on camera or film — photos and videos do not illustrate me as a whole.

There will be good and bad days — they will not all be good. I can’t let myself solely be carried by the good days, or let the bad days define me completely. I must understand that it is truly a progression.




A look into the mishaps captured on camera that I let shape and define me at some point. How I let my dependence on “looking good” whenever and wherever control me and how I’ve redefined the existence of photos and videos for myself.

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Annie Zhang

Annie Zhang

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