Artistic Expression or Entertainment: What do you think is more important as a dancer?
I stand firmly in the camp that entertainment is more important if you have an audience and imperative if you have a paying audience. I know there are many dancers who would argue that they would never compromise their right to creative expression. I agree that there must be agency in the creative process. There are many beautiful, wondrous manifestations of personal dreams in the world today that could only come to light by an artist not bound by rules and restrictions. And let's not ignore the many beneficial inventions that have come into being because somebody once had a vision that seemed impossible to bring to fruition but they forged ahead anyway. I do believe every person has the agency to create in a way that is pleasing to him or her. However, if you intend on sharing your art there must, of necessity, be an audience and they will – one way or another - hold you accountable for what you present to them.
Artistic expression will elicit a response but that response can run the gamut of emotions. On the other hand entertainment is intended to be agreeable, to be an amusing diversion from everyday life and leave the audience with feelings of pleasure and a sense of well-being.
Therefore I would assert that it's a dancer's responsibility to take into account the setting, the type of event, the demographic of the audience and whether or not there will be recompense when preparing and presenting a performance.
How do you know if you are successful dancer? Well, compliments alone are not enough and let's face it, for various and sundry reasons compliments are often given when not merited. On the other hand, an enthusiastic response, follow up invitations to perform, requests to hire you for other public and private functions, peers either wanting to collaborate with and recommend you as a substitute (or conversely viewing and treating you as active competition) are all indications that you understand and have struck that happy balance between following your personal inner muse and giving your audience what they want. If you all walk away feeling good you have done your job well.
January 14, 2012