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Sunday, March 30, 2014

True Artists Don't Just Hit Record

Living in a YouTube generation where it seems everyone has their own camera and editing program to make videos, it's easier than ever to create content and broadcast it online.  But how does this effect the number of people attending live performances when audiences can easily sit in the comfort of their own homes to watch some art?

Personally for me, nothing beats a live performance.

A live performance offers a human connection that a video will never replace.  Each night, a cast aims to deliver the best possible performance, a performance that will never be replicated again. Mishaps and all, history is made at that moment and an indescribable energy is transmitted across each person seated or standing within the space.

Trust Artists don't hide behind the lens. They have the ability to give you in-person goosebumps, can alter your perspective by just an extension of their arm, and can leave you feeling that anything is possible. Without the help of photoshop, auto-tune, or any editing program that manufactures the end product, they go beyond just hitting record.  They display their human imperfections offering a dose of reality.  As human beings, we are not perfect but it seems once the record button is hit, a (distorted) picture of perfection is displayed before us.  

Will live performance eventually die in our digital world?  I hope not.  I see it transforming to take on a new shape where innovators will need to think creativity to find new ways to build audiences while still maintaining the integrity of the art form and its' performers.  With commercial, big Broadway shows on the rise, so too are the local shows bringing in a connected niche audience.  Those in the middle may diminish as they will have to compete fiercely with other forms of big-box entertainment.

I recently saw the show Gimme One Riddim choreographed by the amazing Natasha Powell and Jasmyn Fyffe.  Inspired by the heart and soul of 'Ska' music - Jamaica's original voice of freedom - the show brought the heat of the island to the Toronto Harbourfront Centre.  I was dancing in my seat the whole time and a big fat smile was planted on my face.  I looked around and thought this is it.  This is a moment that I won't be able to play back ever again. Even if I watch a video of it at some point, it will never do justice to the feeling I experienced while watching the incredible dancers sweat, move, and pulsate to the rhythm, essentially giving everything to their audience.

It's that which makes live performance so special, so real, so human.

And I hope that will be enough to make it last.

Gimme One Riddim: March 29, 2014
Photo Credit: Christopher James Cushman 

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