Authenticity in the Arts

The arts have never been an arena for conformity.

Art is a vehicle to express our deepest sentiments where words alone cannot. I dare not say that art need be original to be authentic. Don’t confuse the two. It’s hard to say anything is truly original anymore. Even Michael Jackson’s moonwalk didn’t come from Michael Jackson, but he made it his by way of popularity.

What I’m seeing today in several fields of the arts is a move toward conformity. This is puzzling to me. Trends are common, they always have been and they always will be even within the arts, but rushing downstream because the water flows that way is not what I call being authentic.

What do I mean by authenticity? I mean being true to your self. What am I feeling? What do I want to say about how I feel? How do I express who I am or what I imagine? If this is the conscious or unconscious dialogue in your creative works, congratulations, you are an artist. Creative expression of your self or surroundings through your eyes, ears, imagination or experience. This, to me, is art.

Since when has the number of likes or followers become a marker of our self worth? Or better yet, an incentive to do something that you don’t truly identify with to be a part of an image or a movement?

As I dancer, I call bullshit on inauthenticity. I can see and feel the difference from dances that are expressed from within, and dances that are simply without. It’s not my place to judge these pieces. I’m merely remarking as a dance enthusiast that I much prefer to experience a dancer in his/her true form. Costumes, make up… they are elements to enhance a theatrical performance, but should not be the performance itself. It doesn’t even mean you have to be a particularly brilliant or skilled technician as long as you are authentic. Martha Graham said “Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.” Word.

Art can be beautiful as well as hideous, uplifting as well as saddening. We live in a complex world and experience a full palate of emotions from the very high, such as the elation of love, to the very low as in the suffering of loss. If art is meaningful, it can have the power to transform and inspire, that’s what makes it magical. Human expression through any creative outlet makes the world a more comprehensive place and is our greatest gift to channel the mundane into something extraordinary. Let’s not make the arts ordinary by removing ourselves from it.

Keep it real by being you.