Friday, January 7, 2011

A Perspective of Perfection

After writing a post about the Black Swan I thought about all the different themes of the movie.  I wanted my niece, Ashley's thoughts on the movie, The Black Swan and the psycological impact is has on the prima ballerina. 

After the movie, I did not have anyone to talk about it to. I saw this movie, with my son's girlfriend. She is in her early 20's.  Both of us were speechless.

The movie, was very bizarre, violent, because of perfection, and competitiveness of being a prima ballerina.  There are stresses in a public life of the movie actors.  But, it is very different in the ballet world. Where the dance, and body image are the most important in a ballerina's life.

It took me a couple days to digest and marinate the movie.  After a few days, I spoke to my niece, Ashley Solomon. Ashley holds a  Psy.D.
B.A. in Psychology from the University of Dayton
Masters and Doctorate of Clinical Psychology from Xavier University.
She works with clients with eating disorders, in a private practice in the Chicago area.

During her busy schedule, she regularly posts on her blog, Nourishing the Soul, her blog is a look at how our relationship with food can become distorted when our minds, bodies, and souls are not properly nourished. This bout uplifting and feeling good about your self. 

I asked her if she would stop by and talk about the movie, the Black Swan with her perspective.

Thank you Ashley, for coming and stopping by on Carolina Book Stacks. 

                                      Black Swan and the Perfectionist

Does the cutthroat world of ballet create unattainable standards of perfection that drive even the most balanced performer mad? Or is the sense of perfectionism something more innate to the dancer?

This is one of the myriad of questions aroused by Darron Aronofsky’s (you remember Requiem for a Dream, right? I try not to…) latest masterpiece, Black Swan. In a film that defies convention and leaves viewers squirming (especially if you make the mistake of seeing it with your mother), issues of perfectionism and the search for identity abound.

In the film, Natalie Portman beautifully portrays a young ballerina who has earned the dual role of White and Black Swan in Swan Lake. As the ballerina, Nina, goes deeper into the role of the Black Swan and wrestles with conflicting desires of perfection and autonomy, she begins to decompensate mentally.

While most of us are far removed from the world of spotlights and leotards, many among us do struggle with issues of perfectionism. If not you, then someone you know certainly fits the mold of the person who cannot accept nothing less than the absolute best.

For those of us who aren’t perfectionists, these are often the people that drive us crazy. They can be demanding of us or simply so hard on themselves that it becomes difficult to watch. Perhaps they spend hours on a project that they could complete in a few minutes, are constantly complaining about their hair, or are constantly criticizing the way you wash the dishes (ahem, honey…).

It might help to know that underlying perfectionism is a deep and profound sense of insecurity. As with obsessive-compulsive behaviors, perfectionism functions as a means of alleviating anxiety for individuals. If you ask a perfectionist what might happen if things aren’t perfect, he or she will often come up blank. But the anxiety, while undefined, remains.

Just like the stark contrast between the Black Swan and White Swan, perfectionist tend to think in black-and-white, or all-or-nothing, thinking patterns. This way of thinking and relating to others does not allow for ambiguity or shades of gray. If he doesn’t score perfectly on a test, he is a complete failures. If her boyfriend doesn’t say “I love you” often enough, his feelings must be waning.

This type of thinking is not only draining, but can lead to many mental health issues. It is at the heart of depression and anxiety, as well as a key factor for individuals who struggle with eating disorders. Psychologists treating these disorders often focus in on changing these types of thinking patterns in order to alleviate the symptoms of mental illnesses.
While Nina didn’t seem to come to a place of flexibility and self-acceptance (or perhaps she did… I remain mystified by the film), those of us in real life can change our perfectionist tendencies and learn enjoy the journey rather than the outcome.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Thoughts on The Black Swan

The Black Swan is about a ballerina, Nina, played by Natalie Portman. She won the role as Prima ballerina for Swan Lake.  She was chosen for the role as the lead ballerina for the "Black Swan", in Tchaivosky's Swan Lake. That is where the problem begins, with the competitveness of the other dancers.

There are many emotions of joy, sadness, madness, and sexual awakening,jealousy, and the competitiveness being #1, being perfect without any flaws, that is explored in this movie.

If you are not open minded, you will most likely not enjoy seeing this movie. The movie goes over the top, and explores emotions you would not typiclly see in a major production.  This movie, is independent ,it went past the boundaries.

First off, I love cultural events, and of course ballet is in that catagory.  That said, you can imagine it grabbed me from the start.   Swan Lake, was my first , and favorite balllet I saw at the MET in NYC, with Barishnowkov.  A famous male ballet dancer in Russia.  There was a lot of controversy about that story.  You can google it for more info.

At the time when I first heard about the movie, Black Swan, I thought what was the great raves  about. I love ballet anyway, I would go. But, I heard Natalie Portman was in this movie. I thought of her in Star Wars, she is a mediocre actress. But after seeing the movie I understood.

                                            Her ACTING WAS SUPERB!!!

The movie was very bizarre. But, after digesting some of the bizarre moments. I Loved It!!!
The acting was wonderful as well as the costumes. I have never seen a movie, that I don't know what to expect, except when a movie is suspense. 

  I don't want to give you specifics and ruin the movie. But if you have seen the movie and you would like to discuss it with me on my blog, you can leave a comment.  The is the first time, that I can only give you a glimpse of the movie as I will spoil it. 

To have a better understanding of the movie, Black Swan google Swan Lake.

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