December 3, 2010

Art and the Zen

Whoa. heavy title right? I went to a student choreography showcase entitled "Fall into Dance" tonight, and it was beautiful. Stunningly done. But I didn't understand a solid portion of the dances, and reflecting on this, I decided I was okay with it.
So here you are:

Art and Incomprehension

Words may speak to our brains, or maybe to our hearts, but art speaks to the soul. It can revive long-swept-under-the-rug memories and trigger emotions we thought we forgot about. You do not simply "watch" art.
You interact with it, identify with it. But what if it makes no sense at all? Are we to toss it out and disregard it?
What if the story it tells is ambiguous, or if we can't even find a story in it at all?
Perhaps what we should be considering here is the meta of understanding.

The complexities of understanding a movement are vast, and have a plethora of interpretations. Perhaps instead of searching in vain to find a chord that resonates with us within each piece, it is a more meaningful exercise to contemplate what it means to not understand and how valuable a tool it can be.

There is a certain amount of Zen in not understanding as well. Instead of becoming infuriated with the lack of understanding, rejoice in it. Revel in the fact that to you it makes no sense, but you can see the beauty in the movements, and in some parts understand the idea behind it. You can see where light and dark elements are used and relate that to the light and dark elements within all souls. "It is not a question of whether they are good or bad, for everyone has good parts and bad parts in them, but rather what is important is which of these we choose to act on." You can see where red is used for anger, love, and more pervasively, passion. Blue for calm. Yellow for joy. In compiling these, we can begin to build a basic framework for understanding. But sometimes dissecting a dance draws away from its heart, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. In this case, it is a valuable thing to step away from the microscope and simply - to quote The Beatles- Let it be. Accept the fact that you don't "get it" and decide that maybe there isn't really anything to "get" and then be okay with that. Like really okay with that. Be happy about it, reflect on it, and perhaps someday down the road, the gears will turn, and it will click with you. But for now, just let it happen and Love it.

There is also a certain humbling that comes with art-interpretation of any kind.
It could be a painting, a dance movement, a street musician.
They (the artist) are expressing an intangible entity, an entity that is deeply personal to them, and you are a mere bystander in their story. It is through their immense generosity that they have chosen to share it with you, and expect nothing in return.

There is beauty in not understanding.

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