Friday, October 2, 2009

An Easier Talent?

I've always been jealous of people who can sing.

In the past week I've been out to see two different friends' singing gigs, where they share their beautiful voices with friendly, engaged, relaxed, casual audiences. One was in a busy, clanky jazz club/restaurant uptown with listeners snacking and drinking and chatting. The other was in a private lounge for a rather elite group of older professionals, where listeners bobbed their heads and sang along.
(me with one singer friend, who also happens to be my fabulous yoga teacher! :)

Obviously there are as many genres of a singing career as there are in dance, but it dawned on me last night as I watched how casually people took the mic and improvised a show that it seems so much easier to share a singing talent than a dancing talent. Of course I know singing isn't easy (I fake my way quietly through our few Radio City songs well, haha), but you don't need so much immediate preparation to perform, or such space requirements. One can sing anywhere. As I listened to my friend sing and watched as others followed her I badly had the urge to get up myself and take the "stage." But, uh, I can't sing - and nor did I want to. I wanted to dance.

This is mostly a profound observation...and I'm rambling as I tend to do...but with dance we are so separate from our audience. We dance, they watch. Even though many smaller companies, particularly here in the city, embrace more intimate settings there is still a strong distinction between the entertainer and the observer. With singing, in cases like a cabaret or open mic or floor show, that line is blurred. Audiences clap, hum, tap their toes, mouth the words, rock out with the musicians (last night there were some fabulous drums!), and generally have more of a good time themselves. In a different way, I suppose. We tend to think of dance as a higher art, above the lowliness of club dancing which also can engage audiences like singing I guess. But wouldn't it be fun if there were a way to make dancer a similar kind of entertainment? Not sure what I'm trying to get at but...I've seen a lot of dance performances lately where I'm all together bored and ready to get out of my cramped seat and go home. If I, as a dancer myself, can't stand watching some of this stuff how can we expect regular audiences to be interested?


kathy with a k said...

interesting...very good point. Have you seen "Hair"? While, obvisously, there's lots of singing; at the end of the show the audience is invited up on the stage. Giant dance party. Director Diane Paulus loves breaking down the "fourth wall" and engaging with the audience. "The Donkey Show" (currently running in Boston)is "A Midsummer Night's Dream" set in the Disco era. Tons of music and dancing; audience and performers alike.
When I was a young student; I remember coming home from ballet performances I had attended with so much energy and enthusiasm. I could never go right to sleep. I would always have to dance. Come to think of it; my daughter's first "Nutcracker"...she was 3yrs old. Throughout the entire second act she danced in front of the orchestra pit.
You've given me something to think about Taylor!

PS: I am not a singer; however, my daughter can sing and dance. crazy.

Taylor said...

yes, great example with "Hair"! indeed when i went to see it I got to go up onstage with the crowd. fun...

and definitely, GOOD dance I watch makes me want to dance as I want to try what they're doing up there though, not just my normal classes and stuff. I guess the idea some companies have taken to of offering master classes along with their performances...i think i'd like to see more of that...