As we begin 2012, I have come to the realization that I have an addiction-dance making. I oftentimes feel that I need an Artists Anonymous group filled with other addicts like myself to whom to admit this fact. I imagine myself entering the room in my purest dance form, dressed in comfortable black stretch pants, hair tousled and in sneakers. I would approach the front of the room confidently and state, “Hi, my name is Becky. I am an artist and I am addicted to dance-making.” After some “oohs” and “ahhs,” and probably some exaggerated shaking of the heads up and down in recognition of our similar plights, everyone would respond, “Hello Becky. Welcome.” I would then be able to sit down and breathe a sigh of relief, a real exhale, for all the pretending, all the schizophrenia I have lived as a public school teacher, a corporate HR professional and as an administrator would be pushed aside in this room. Here, I could be pure, raw and honest with myself and be the artist that I have always been deep down inside.
Of course, I am just guessing and jesting at how this interaction would come about and then unfold. However, the crux of it is that as an artist, I often feel isolated and unsure about the work I do and how I go about doing it. How do I choreograph and lead, dance and live, and teach and educate all at the same time-gracefully, with humor and with passion? How do other artists lead this life successfully and how can I find them? Again, I say to the group that reads these words in cyberspace, “Hi, my name is Becky. I am an artist who is addicted to dance making and I am proud of it.”
This idea of an AA for artists may sound ludicrous. I mean, how could being addicted to making art really be an addiction? What harm could it cause? Oh, but only if I could list all of the dangers…isolation (purposeful much of the time), manic ups and downs, insecurity and instability are just a few words that come to mind. Simply stated, being passionately in love with an art form requires tradeoffs and very difficult ones at times. Family and friends will oftentimes not understand the risks you take and the decisions you make for your art. But, those decisions are yours, and no one else’s, to make. You have to live with them, every day. And, only you know, deep down in your soul, whether you can live with yourself if you decide not to make those sacrifices as well. Our spirits tell us this by nagging at us, by pleading with us every day that we are not in the studio creating and dreaming. In today’s matter of fact, technologically driven black and white world, being practical is the norm. But it is also such an impediment to art-making and this is why many artists are seen as odd hermit types who live in the clouds. This is why we need an AA, but in this AA we could use our real names if we like.
What would you be willing to sacrifice for your art? I ask this question because it is an important one to know the answer to as you tip toe across this high wire of an artist’s life. Would you be willing to give up the security of a stable income in order to create space and time for art making? Would you be willing to give up time with friends and loved ones? Would you be willing to give up everything material in order to create just one masterpiece?
To many more sensible people, the above questions do not even make any sense for if one were to sit down and make a list of pros and cons of being an artist, the cons would add up quickly and the pros would be limited to the single digits. If this statement is true, then let us return to the idea of art being an addiction for this idea then makes logical sense as that is how an addiction with anything is. It doesn’t make any sense to those not addicted to it.
For example, if one were to look at my dance making from a financial perspective, one would think I have lost my mind as I put more money and time into rehearsals and production than I have ever made from any showing. However, the financial piece is not why, nor can it ever be why, I create dances. It would be a wonderful honor to one day make some money by showcasing my work, but that is not the reason I create work. It is not my inspiration nor can it ever be, for then I would simply be creating art purely for the audience and not for myself.
Thus, I would like to end this post with the same question already asked: What would you be willing to sacrifice for your art? Money? Time? Relationships? Or, nothing at all? Please feel free to respond to these questions, comment on them and to introduce yourself to others via this blog post.