This ideal of the performance and the performer being one… What is that exactly? Well my thoughts are these… I believe, like so many, that they are very much one in the same. There must be a true and honest connection from the person who interprets a character, a piece of music, song, choreography is it is to be truly credible and believable.
When I share my thoughts and speak on this subject in my Alexander Technique classes, especially those with stage performers, I am reminded that this is often not the case. It certainly isn´t commonly offered as a model for study during training and in many cases, this work is left to the individual. Which is often something that gets overlooked, forgotten or merely just not focussed on, until the day arrives and the individual comes to the realization that in fact true connection is really the only way to interpret from the heart and that ones own truth is happiness may well be at stake if we become aware of this essential element and we chose to ignore it.
I, like many others, took class after class in voice, performance, theatre, acting, musical theatre, movement, dance, improvisation, methods and techniques from around the world, all in search of honing in on a need to express myself through the arts. A desire to communicate something, anything! Which after 20 years I think I finally feel like I´m getting close to achieving!
And one major turning point in the journey for me was my discovery and ultimate work and study of the Alexander Technique. This technique has opened up so many aspects of myself, bringing me to a much greater understanding of truth, honesty, clarity of intention, emotion and expression through my voice, either spoken or sung.. My ¨true voice¨… my ¨real voice¨ comes from no other place than from my very essence, my centre.
I often become disillusioned when I see so many superficial expressions of ¨ART¨…where we seem to have lost the very definition of what artistic integrity is. Music and forms of artistic performance that leave with an empty feeling inside. An uninspired, unoriginal, carbon copy of something done before in exactly the same way… Nothing new, pleasing to a crowd in which hands we give all the power to approve or disapprove and not, what I feel might be our real job, to educate, to challenge, to expand perspectives and to release closed off minds and narrowed perceptions of life and art.
And then I meet the people who are connected. Visual artists, musicians, singers, actors, directors, dancers, choreographers, painters. Those people who, upon our first meeting, they just get it (whatever ¨it¨ is of course).. Maybe not simply or straight away, as for many it was a long road of self explorations, delving into experiences in order to discover more layers and deeper meaning. But they understand what ART is in my opinion, and how huge a role TRUTH plays in its expression. Truth to not just to provoke, to scare, to incite anger or to cause confusion, but TRUTH in order to basically not tell lies, not fabricate stories of untruths and essentially fooling people (and themselves) into thinking that kind of art is true ART. I´m not speaking about imagination or fantasy as these too have much truth to them when explored and developed.
I know my words may be strong, and this is my opinion only. However, I compare it sometimes to tastes that are all relative given our experiences thus far in life.
To give a silly example..
I grew up in a house where the coffee on offer was Nescafe or Maxwell House or some other brand of instant freeze dried coffee granules. (my dasd loves the stuff!) This was what I thought coffee tasted like… and then I went to Italy and had my first espresso. F<rom that moment, something big changed in my whole perception of coffee and it´s beans natural (once roasted and toasted) flavour. My mind was literally blown away. Upon first tasting it, of course I was a little shocked as it tasted nothing like the coffee I had known for so many years…but then when i investigated further, I learned more about its history, the coffee plantations, the tasting and roasting processes and the varying levels of intensity and flavour, ultimately the coffee comes from the bean itself and not something that is extracted and then chemically manipulated to give us a quick, just add water, stir and drink version. ( and I use this as an example of plenty of ART that is out there, popular or not)
So, from where I stand, once you are exposed to the real thing, or even made aware of its very existence, why settle for something less or an imitation copy? Convenience? Comfort? Maybe so. And that again is a choice that one makes.
But personally, my choice, like so many other things, is once I know what the real taste and experience can be, why would I stay with something artificial. Like musical expression, art, movement etc..
I know the arguments are there… needs must, i prefer it, it´s what i am used to, ground coffee beans are too strong etc etc… And each to his own.
But what it boils down to, is that I chose, for me, to not settle for less. I want to live my life to the fullest for me. And that definition of full will be determined by me and no one else.
So the ARTIST for me has a duty to explore their very essence and experience as much as possible in order to truly and honestly express themselves.
Listen to their TRUE VOICE.
Singing a song with lyrics and just repeating the notes and the melody with the words attached with no real connection to what it is we are singing about is something I can no longer accept, for me. Nor is it something I wish to subscribe to or listen to anymore. It is something that I implore my students to explore as I truly, vehemently and passionately believe there must be truth and sincerity to artistic expression. Whether you are dancing a piece of choreography, singing a jazz standard, presenting a shakespearean monologue, playing the oboe or violin in a orchestra – connect, connect, connect!
Relate, communicate, find an intention, find your TRUE VOICE and share it through your ART!
More on this for future blogs…