17 Days Till Showtime: Why Bother?

Well, I colored yesterday very dark indeed with my super-black mood.  Sure, some of it was due to the usual suspects of post-performance blues after Saturday’s show, exhaustion, and Mercury in retrograde (I think).

But really, truly, much of it was the grinding, wearing, BLOODY struggle of being an artist in a none-too-hospitable culture.  I mean, why bother doing this anyway?

Yes, I’ve loved my dancing since I could walk.  LOVED IT!  And I’ve been blessed enough to dance with and be encouraged by many brilliant artists.  Had folks tell me repeatedly that my dancing and my classes and my dances make them feel joyful and inspired.

But is that enough to persevere?  Sometimes I don’t know. Sometimes the big and constant challenges make you wonder whether you should pack up your little dance tent and go home.

This reminds me of a recent open rehearsal we held.  When my unflaggingly supportive husband said he couldn’t come, I expected no one to show up.  For the first 45 minutes, no one did come and I told the dancers somewhat sadly that we’d probably end early.

Then, shockingly, miraculously, a lovely woman came in from the cold, dark night with her lovely teenage daughter.  They gave us thoughtful feedback, in several wonderful exchanges, which we incorporated in our new piece. 

I find this thrilling.  This connection around creativity and possibility and beauty. I’m so grateful that these two people came out to be with us, and even expressed happiness with their experience.

And yet I’m wondering whether it’s enough?  If we have 1 person is it enough?  Would 100 be enough?  Thousands?

And if no one comes, is it still enough to get out there and create and dance?

How do we accurately and effectively measure success in art anyway?  Because even if the process of dancemaking and performing are enough for me and my dancers, there are the inevitable questions from the venue and from funders:  How many people came?  How much money did we bring in? It’s so neat: We can measure that.

Admittedly, we can’t gauge as easily: How meaningful was that experience to the artists and the audience?  What matters?

My husband hates this periodic rant of mine that always surfaces in the slow march to showtime when we’re hustling to fill the seats, along with everything else.  Thank God he consistently reminds me of THE important thing: I need to do this because it brings me and others joy and meaning. 

Oh! Right!

I’m ashamed to say that sometimes I let his wisdom and generosity get drowned out by the voices of self-doubt, and harshness of a world that too often forgets to value  beauty and art.  We abdicate responsibility for them.

But, you know, if we don’t advocate for art and those who create it, if we don’t get out there and make art and encourage our fellow artists and pay to experience art, all that beauty and inspiration could shrivel up from neglect, and disappear.

I know I don’t want to live in that parched world.  Nor pass it on to my children.

So, yes, I guess it’s time to get my game face on once again and, get back in that game.

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