Beware of Distortions

Erika Lemay

Erika Lemay – Photo by Andrea Giachi

QUEBEC, Canada — Dressed only in my Swarovski crystals leotard, balancing on one hand atop of a high and tiny metal stick with my legs tracing full circles in the air, nothing is really unusual but there is something abnormal in my work today on stage. I am in a sumptuous location in Northern Africa, in front of the most prominent personalities who have come from the four corners of the world for this charity event gala.

Out of breath, I try to make this last contortion look easy to my audience, feeling every single muscle of my body crying out loud. There are still 20 seconds to the end of my performance. This strenuous 8 minutes routine is one of the most physically demanding from my whole repertoire. Under the thunder of applause from an admiring crowd, I smile and bow humbly as this surge of love and praise comes unexpectedly.

Feeling blessed with all this admiration which I judge undeserved, the emotion I am experiencing is actually on the verge of disgust. How could I be worthy of that kind of joyful and respectful ovation after having executed this mediocre performance? I have trained my whole life, almost every single day since I was four years old, to be capable of mastering my art. From the dangerous moment that requires all the strength I possess to the perfection of every single angle, nothing has been left to chance in my preparation. Producers and clients fly me all over the world to allow their guests a special moment. My performance has to be perfect, flawless, over prepared. I am somehow required to offer more than anyone considers possible and yet, I am here right now on stage, swimming in a pool of disappointment.

Erika Lemay

Erika Lemay – Photo by Douglas Kirkland

The Aftermath

I want to take refuge in my dressing room and stay there forever. I need to practice what I should be doing perfectly for the rest of the evening until I am asked to leave. I want this performance I have crafted over the whole course of my career to be perfect. I want to go back on stage to execute the routine as I have repeated a thousand times. I need to prove to myself I can still do it or the ice might become too thick to break. What if I can no longer attain these performing conditions? What if my body forgot what it has taken a whole lifetime to learn? What if this was the last time I was given the opportunity to perform?

Looking for solutions, I am scanning every single item of my dressing room looking for something that could give me a reason for this poor performance. Is there anything I can find fault with so this huge failure is not only on my shoulders?

I was not struck by thunder and nobody poisoned me before the show so it might be my own responsibility.

Erika Lemay

Erika Lemay – Photo by Douglas Kirkland

And the Verdict…

Someone is knocking at the door in a coded melodic way; I know it is my manager. Without even looking, I open the door and sit back on the couch shamefully. With an exploding smile, he exclaims:“They loved you! You were in your best shape tonight, the finale moment was endless, wow!”
My face remains without any expression since it would probably mutate into a question mark. When did he become this inauthentic person? One more mystery to this evening…

After an obligatory “fake smile” session going through VIPs and clients vowing how unique and moved they still are from watching my performance, I finally go back to my dressing room feeling even more undeserving.

Reality Check

Every single training session and show that I do is recorded; my video camera is like my personal coach and faithful eye, giving me, without filter, the advices and slaps in the face I deserve when I fail or the encouragements and uplifting energy when I make improvements. I am constantly craving for the truth on how critical is the situation and how much work is waiting for me before I will ever feel confident to step on stage again.

My brain is ready for the input but my heart is not. I feel it jumping in my chest like a teenager going to talk in front of her class for the first time as I am about to see myself through the lens of truth only a few minutes after my performance.

For the next 8 minutes, I become the speechless witness of an almost perfect acrobatic and artistic execution, forgetting the girl on the screen is the one I judged so harshly a few minutes ago. None of the ugliness and amateurism I felt had actually happened for real. Every detail I had rehearsed recently was corrected and perfected until the very little toe.

And once again, after yet so many years of experience, I have been able to torture myself and prove how creative my mind can get when it is time to over-dramatise what did not even happen.

The views expressed in Op-Ed pieces are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Fashion Globe.
Erika Lemay About the author

Internationally awarded performer and public personality. Her ability to move any type of audience, her artistry and stunning acrobatics, makes her today, one of the most revered artists around the world. Visit Erika Lemay FG Special Guest Profile »


  1. Your ability to be your own worst critic after every performance allows you to maintain your drive and work even harder to make the tiny improvements day after day, year after year that led you to where you are today.

    Sometimes it helps to step back and appreciate where you came from, but then you still keep pressing on.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Judy Finelli :

    that’s exactly the paradox. Your standard of perfection is far and away more exacting than the audience. That’s exactly why you are so good. Because you perceive more details than anyone else. And it is this quest for perfection of that drives you and ensures your excellence. Thank you for revealing your self because it is fascinating. All best wishes for a long career