There is a huge wall between popular audiences and contemporary dance. The movements are difficult to understand. The dancers are expressionless although sometimes their faces look like they think what they are doing is really important. Front row seat at a friends dance performance. I’m trying to figure out what it is they are trying to say or what I’m supposed to feel when one of them starts staring me down. She hates me. Ferociously wracking my brain about what I might be guilty of, I’m less persuaded this is something I should think than I am threatened. “I’m here to support your art, I really am” I think to myself. But by then she’s given me a heavy sigh and is visiting another audience member.
I’m glad everyone makes the art they need to make. An artist, though having the ability to affect change in the world more than a factory worker, does not have this responsibility.
I selected the above picture for this post because Doug Elkins makes dance performances that include humor and character. The dancers in his pieces are technically trained artists who know how to connect to the dance material and audiences in a way that reaches something more essentially human (emotional connection) than what most contemporary dance companies are apparently aiming for (exploration of a concept and form.)
Some questions, some conversations.
“Art moves us…”
Can a blank canvas, an intellectual investigation of space move an audience? Not from the gut. But if you know enough context, sure. Head first, and then much later, the heart, the guts. This viewer might be moved, but it’s unlikely that there will be tears or revelatory experience.
This, on the other hand, is brilliant.
Art clubs. Football clubs. Glee clubs. What’s different about the art world is that it largely defines itself by exclusion.
As an artist who has worked in the fields of education and entertainment I find myself occupying two different spaces:
“What is the best way to communicate the idea I want to get across to the specific audience I’m dealing with?”
“What do you want to make? That thing? Good. Go.”
These two minds keep everything in balance.
This is more a conversation than trying to convince anyone of anything. If you’d like to talk about this, get in touch.
Art + Entertainment + Commerce: