One Ear Society

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Performance Art vs Entertainment

Choreographer Monica Craun
Developing non-commercial yet attractive performance art in Miami has proved to be a challenging process in a city that is a thriving tourist destination with a booming nightclub and "entertainment" dance industry. I moved here hoping to encounter a richly diverse dance scene that reflects the diversity of the Miami population. I was excited to experience this fusion of cultures and continue to develop my dance and choreography. I have found Miami to have only a handful of dance companies and not much representation of the folkloric dances from the Americas considering the cultural diversity.
The focus is in the entertainment dance industry, but not necessarily the type of dance I was looking for. It has been hard to find contexts or venues that view the dancing body as art rather than just as entertainment. Art can and should be entertaining but I believe it should also be respected with the same integrity that the artist put into it. The majority of the jobs that I have been offered here in Miami have involved dancing in nightclubs or casinos, body painted or semi-nude to an intoxicated crowd as a background diversion. As an aspiring choreographer it is hard to imagine myself dancing in such venues without compromising my artistic and social integrity. Not to say that that is all there is in Miami, but there is definitely a gravitational pull in that direction due to the money for "entertainment". I shudder to think at how many talented young dancers have lost their focus due to the lack of opportunities. Instead I have been doing shows at art galleries, Haiti Benefits, alternative music videos and film projects. Most of which involve no compensation and a lot of work . But no complaints, it is fulfilling work that I seek that leaves one with an invaluable feeling of heart and purpose for which one must pay the consequences of zero compensation. In a city that has abundant resources, crowds and venues, dance is not the only victim. Is there something to be said about a society that views the body more as entertainment than art? Perhaps due to the constant influx of travelers and pleasure seekers the market for more substantial or intellectual pieces has not been fully addressed.
Maybe people are lulled by the turquoise oceans of Miami, that create this oh so seductive serenity. Miami has seduced me, but I don't want to loose my integrity or edge for creating meaningful pieces. It is hard to stay fiery in a city surrounded by water. The water element seems to diffuse energy, focus and resistance into this harmonious happy feeling. Happy is good, happy is great, but so is depth and so is substance. A composer friend of mine said that Miami is "fertile ground" for the arts, and I have yet to find it.

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