Overcoming Limitations in Performing Arts

Rise Above Them and Be Excellent

Overcoming LImitations

I have a friend, Merry Lynn, who is a dance professor. She is a beautiful dancer and an extremely talented dance educator and researcher. She also is the inventor of a fascinating device called the Rolling Dance Chair. Her project has an incredible personal back story that came from tragedy in her family when she was a young girl. However, I want to focus here on how Merry Lynn’s passion for overcoming limitations can help you overcome limitations, too.


Often in my career I have dealt with dancers and other performing artists who struggle in some way with limitations in their ability to execute what they love to do. In other words, some type of limitation makes it hard for them to live out the passion for performing that is in their heart. Sometimes the limitation comes from an anatomical variation that doesn’t allow a one’s body to execute a certain movement. This happens a lot in dance, and I discussed what I call your “Anatomy Signature” a few weeks ago to highlight how to avoid problems with this type of limitation.

But, usually the very grind of how performing arts works brings the trouble: the auditions, the adjudicators, the artistic staff, the teachers or professors, the injuries, and the fear in artists that they aren’t going to measure up. Legs are too short, trunk is too long, body type is too large, face is the wrong shape, voice isn’t right, singing is off key, moves aren’t crisp, can’t keep the beat… It can be a very unforgiving world. Too often there is a crushed spirit when the answer is “Not this time,” and in some cases, “Not any time—just go away and don’t ever come back.” In the face of this, focusing on the negatives increases and the criticism becomes intense by the hardest judges of all: performing artists themselves.


Obviously we need auditions to help a choreographer or director select artists whose abilities are suited to the planned production. Auditions also help ensure integrity in performance quality and give artists a high standard to strive for. After all, from an artistic standpoint, crummy performing is way worse than not performing.

However, we must remember that it’s not possible to be perfect, or even talented, at everything. Let’s get back to why I’m so fond of my friend Merry Lynn and what she represents. Her passionate life’s work on the Rolling Dance Chair is about offering the opportunity to dance to people whom you might consider as limited. She helps them focus on overcoming limitations and, as a result, opens up amazing new opportunities to them.

Overcoming Limitations in Dance

Merry Lynn Morris on her Rolling Dance Chair

But, what are limitations after all? Of course we all have some. But, a limitation is simply an opportunity to prove that you are a winner over adversity. The real goal of life, therefore, should be minimizing how limitations affect our attitude. That way we can work on overcoming limitations (created by ourselves or others) that mess up our opportunities to move forward. When we do this ourselves, we can help others around us move forward, as well.

That’s what Merry Lynn does. You can, too. So, be excellent in everything you can accomplish. Never give up. Focus on overcoming your limitations. Encourage others to rise above theirs, too. Please leave a comment about how you overcame a limitation or how you’ve been able to help others overcome one of their own.

Please note: While diverse opinions are essential to discussion, I reserve the right to delete comments that are mean-spirited, offensive, or off-topic. If you wish to disagree with people, please respect them in doing so.

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