Brave New World

tatseena 2To be an artist, one has to possess a certain sensitivity to the world and all that it beholds. To have the ability to capture the essence of a feeling, a mood or a moment and turn it into something tangible requires an inner connection with owns own self and a connectedness with our surroundings.

We are currently living in a time where despite enhancements in technology, human beings seem to be more disjointed than ever before. When we gather together, we are looking at our phones, planning our next rendez-vous and snapping selfies, all the while not being truly present in that moment. We are all victims or our own crimes here, literally we are letting the opportunity to live our lives pass us by.

In this brave new world, many people judge their self worth based on the number of likes a photo gets or how many followers they have on social media. I myself was only using ridiculous hashtags on instagram until just recently. Hashtags that don’t really exist as search tools like:

#bowchickawowow #whompthereitis #northafricanunicornprincessbellydancefusion  etcetera.

I started to see my counterparts in the dance community doing millions of more serious hashtags and started to question my tactics. My instagram has been primarily a photo album of my beloved dogs, but I’m starting to feel I need to step up my game to stay in touch with the cyber dance community. The blessing of social media is that it allows us to stay connected in a way that we never have before. When I lived in India many moons ago, connectedness with loved ones abroad was maintained via airmail. Messages coming and going every few months with news completely outdated by the time it had arrived. Mobile phones were only used by rich drug dealers and so staring at a screen all the time wasn’t really a part of the culture. Because I’m old fashioned and I like to make people feel special, I still try to collect and send postcards to my friends when I travel. I know I can pick up my phone and send a text, but it’s like receiving a treat when a postcard comes in the mail so I continue to do that whilst keeping with the times.

As an expat, social media has served as a great tool to stay “close” with my friends living across the globe and has saved me from the loneliness that accompanies the life choice that I have made. The flip side of social media is that it gives us the opportunity to compare ourselves to others. Of course everyone has the perfect life online. It’s a perpetual love fest of vacation photos, performance pics and lovers in love… We chose to represent our best selves for world viewing which is a positive thing. Just we the viewers need to cross-examine our interpretations from time to time. We tend to over glamourize our notions of the lives others are leading and in turn criticize our own success and happiness.

I pride myself on being a passionate and out of the box dancer. When I dance solo, I don’t do choreography (which many people criticize me for) I dance what I feel to the music in that moment. Personally, this approach to dance makes my experience as a performer so much more authentic and enriching – reacting to music on the spot with a physical interpretation of sound and sentiment. Sometimes I nail it, other times I don’t, but regardless I feel authentic in representing who I am on the stage. That’s not to say my choreographed group work doesn’t come from an authentic part of my being, it does. But there’s a different feeling in “free dance” verses orchestrating a movement on a count. Clearly choreography is the key to a clean performance, but there’s a vulnerability that gets lost in choreography.

I was telling my students in my fusion class the other day where we are working on #northafricanunicornprincessbellydancefusion that performing movement art is more exposing than to be naked before a crowd. A dance should be the revealing of ones most profound self and sensibilities. In order to deeply move an audience, an artist must really reach into the depth of his/her being to squeeze out that hidden essence that exists within each of us. We all have our own experiences of loss, suffering, pain, joy and ecstasy. The artist job is to express the good, the bad and the ugly of life and create a medium where others can connect with that sentiment an also feel a connection with you.

So although this Brave New World is flittered with chaos, disconnectedness, impersonal relationships and fleeting moments – we the artists must stand our ground and defend what is truly sacred about humanity. We must reclaim the human heart in all it’s pain and glory and continue to reach into the depths of our being to extract the beauty and vulnerability of the human condition. The ultimate goal of art is not only to express our own relationship to the rich, glorious and filthy world in which we live, but to be a service to humanity and give ourselves to the people who live in it.

Brave New World

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