Sunday, January 11, 2009

Everything Connects

These are BillDings, one of my favorite toys when I was a child. And yay, they're back again in the toy market.

Note the amazing feature of this simple stacking toy -- the slots allow them to connect in multiple, unexpected ways.

Oddly enough, even just looking at this image of them again makes the child inside me hugely happy. These clown like figures have huge smiles on their faces as they hang upside down and balance on each other's shoulders, arms and legs. These little guys inspire creativity!

And they have real life counterparts!

This weekend my husband and I attended the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra's Pop Series performance, "Cirque de la Symphonie".

Fortune smiled on us with tickets in the second row while former Cirque performers joined the orchestra onstage and performed stunning acts to each musical selection. Being so close allowed us to see and appreciate their tremendous focus, concentration and physical prowess.

Alexander Streltsov's stunning, aerial moves on silk were one of the many excellent performances of the evening. Watching him soar as silken fabric rippled and billowed around him and the orchestra played a "Star Wars" piece felt magical.

Each act and performer drove home the same message to me. Every art form takes discipline, patience and practice. The artist repeats moves and gestures over and over and over until the sheer force of repetition burns them into memory.

Watching the tremendous concentration and focus in the performers' eyes and faces even as their diaphragms heaved and muscles trembled from exertion, I can appreciate the practice that goes on daily behind-the-scenes to create that seemingly (unless you ARE in the second row!) effortless defiance of gravity.

What do Cirque acrobats performing with our area symphony offer me as inspiration for my daily artistic practice? First, stimulation. Our artistic selves thrive by watching, listening to and appreciating other artists.

Second,the recognition that the ingredients to accomplishment are the same. Desire and practice build our expertise in our chosen field, whether that is playing the tuba, juggling or oil painting.

Third, putting something out into the world from our creative centers is not a matter of how large or how small the rewards are. The concert program, by Cirque de Soleil standards, was tiny, with just one or two performers on stage at a time. Yet I was entertained and satisfied and delighted with this "bite size piece" of Cirque's dazzling choreography and physical artistry.

This means that practicing our art form, whatever it may be, from a place of passion and attention can have as much worth and impact on a small stage as in a large, lavish production.

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