I have to remind myself. My achievement oriented nature gets the better of me. After all, one of the reasons I first got hooked on tap dancing was because it was something I could be good at. But who gets to decide what is good?
In oral traditions, the social network of elders, knowledge keepers, and peer support provide that framework.
In the market culture, the market is supposed to decide value.
But something has happened (especially when it comes to the arts). It’s been going on for a long time, but our recent shift has exposed the fault line. To break in, carve space for your career, and be known in the market, the demands of content creation are astounding. Daily tweets and instagram posts, weekly videos, monthly lessons, and seasonal performances, all feel necessary. I’m in the thick of it, and wonder if there is a better way.
Consider this comparison: Jimmy Slyde and his dance partner Jimmy “Sir Slide” Mitchell had a total of four-and-a-half red hot minutes of content (plus a 1 minute encore, in the back pocket, just in case). That’s a total of five-and-a-half minutes of choreography for their act, that lasted them years of work.
Imagine practicing the same stuff for years! It’s no wonder they were able to attain mastery.
Today we find dancers having to develop new daily for the social sphere, weekly for classes, and seasonally for performances. Always something new, always innovating, always delivering. It is understood that the content will be consumed, never to be revisited. This is an industrial ethic spurred on by the market culture that only a few artists seem to have been able to circumvent (Sade comes to mind, but I’m sure there are others).
For the rest of us, we need to remind ourselves that we are not machines. We are human. We were not made to produce and deliver content at the pace of machines. We were made to share things by bringing inspired work to life that is fueled by love.
If you’re in the thick of it, like me, I’m thinking about what steps can we take to remind ourselves that we are indeed not machines?