Friday, April 15, 2016

ipaccblog#1: Becoming an Artist (Not Just a Technician)

An instructor once told me that a performer’s impact on the audience is 65% upper body and face alone. This meant that the audience notices a performer’s expression and upper body carriage more so than anything else!

 As a dancer, I was immediately deterred by this. Why trouble myself with turnout and “working through my feet” if no one would notice? I later understood that my teacher was not, in fact, giving me the green light to abandon ballet class; but rather she was drawing a defining line between what it meant to be an artist versus simply a technician. This was a distinction, I would later learn, that separates the good and the great performers.

Thinking about the Greats and why I admire them as artists, I always come back to how their work made me feel. I think about how seeing Alvin Ailey’s Revelations revived memories of visiting my grandmother’s southern Baptist church. And I think about how the melancholy piano sounds of Billie Holiday’s I’ll be Seeing You made me homesick for the familiar faces and places of home while I was studying abroad in Spain.

That is what artists do. They create the space for people to feel, to connect to and to relate to shared human experiences. An artist is real, raw and relatable.

Being an artist means staying true to the story you have to tell. It means being vulnerable and courageous enough to then expose it to a world of teething critics. And it means recognizing the power and responsibility that true artistry has to inspire change and to breathe life back into a dying world.

As show time here at InSpira approaches, begin to think about the ways in which you can grow in your artistry. Discover your intent and consider how your movement or your song can make an impact on an audience member. Marry your technical training to your individual story and discover your power as a true artist.

Pauline Braxton
Community Outreach Coordinator

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