Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Note on Improvisation

Didn't I just say that my two worlds often combine?  Tonight has been no exception.

I am a strict recipe girl.  I fully admit it.  I have never been one to just throw something together and see what happens.  It comes from being a natural baker, but it applies to my life outside the kitchen as well.  I plan things.  My pole performances are strictly choreographed, line by line.  I don't freestyle.  I don't improve, in or out of the kitchen.  I can adlib to fix a flub, but then I'm right back on track.

But lately, that's been changing.  At least, in the kitchen.  I suppose I've been seriously cooking for long enough now that I'm actually gaining some confidence.  I've started tweaking, adding to, and changing recipes depending on what I'm in the mood for.  I wanted a cream sauce for some gnocchi last week, so... I changed the recipe.  I substituted.  It turned out amazingly.  Tonight, I wanted meatloaf.  I found a basic recipe, glanced at it, and then... made meatloaf.  I added what I wanted, put it in the oven, and hoped for the best.

I had serious doubts.

But, you know what?  It was delicious.  (Tastes a lot like my mom's recipe, but what else do you expect from watching her make meatloaf for over half my life.)  I experimented, I went with my gut, I went from memory, and it worked.  It's not always going to work, I realize, but it's good to know that I can make something good without going line by line through a recipe.

And, since things in my life always seem to go together, pole class tonight was no different.  Michelle, that minx, made us freestyle to two songs of her choice.  (Her choice, note.  Not ours.  Even more out of my control.)  As soon as she mentioned freedancing, my heart dropped.  I hate being the center of attention unless I know exactly what I'm doing.  I hate looking like I don't know what I'm doing, and I hate the potential for messing up and, as I consider it, looking stupid.  I'm the kind of actor who wants a strict director with a very specific vision.  Improving with an audience?  No thanks.

But, again, I was pleasantly surprised.  (I bet no one else was.  After all, don't we all have more confidence in each other than in ourselves?)  I didn't look like an idiot (at least, I don't think I did), I didn't fall, I didn't stop, and I believe I managed to keep a smile on my face the whole time.  I listened to the music, went with my gut, and, when all else failed, fell back on the old standby tricks until I could think of something else.

Life imitates art.  Or, perhaps, food.


  1. Interestingly, one of my favorite things is improvising - both in food and dance. The freedom for self-expression and creativity is what I love so much. Once you have a basic knowledge and understanding, letting your own flavor shine through makes it all worth while. ; )

  2. I like the results. And I'm a perfectionist. Learning to be freely creative is something I'm working on... but I'm getting there.