Falling with Style

The title of this post is taken from Toy Story! Photo by soopahgrover. Used by Creative Commons License.

I got asked a very weird question at an interview the other day. It was for a musical theatre choreography job for a summer program. The question was, “What is a theatre problem you have solved creatively?”

Now, my first reaction, my smart-ass one, was “Um, what? It’s theatre. Any problem is solved creatively. It’s an art. Duh.” Thankfully, I kept that one to myself.

What I actually said had to do with inter-personal skills. Theatre and dance are amazing tools for learning to build relationships, function in community, solve conflicts and collaborate. In theatre and dance you work on personal space v. group space, active listening as well as active speaking, weight sharing, personal responsibility and idea generation. The trust required by dancers, actors and other performers, of themselves and each other really defies what we see in “the real world”.

This why arts are important in education. Building relationships, trust and respect. Those that are never asked to generate new ideas never will. That creative impulse will be ignored, distrusted, smothered. Those never taught to listen will never hear the opinions and ideas of others.  Violence and hatred stem from a lack of trust and respect.

Now, you don’t have to like everyone you work with. You do, however, have to respect them as an artist. I find relationships formed through dance or theatre activities are some of the most long lasting. Because they are built on trust and respect. Of the people I consider my closest friends, we have all worked together in an artistic setting.

Not to say there isn’t competition. Because there is. There are only so many roles. So many solos. And there’s always someone else who wants it, just like you do. So you have to be your best every time.

And the arts teach us that, too. Be your best. Always. Sometimes it’s enough. Sometimes it isn’t. The arts teach us to fail. And that failure is not the end of the world, because there’s another project, another opportunity. There is something to learn from your experience, to make you better the next time around.

And learning to fail, gracefully, and use it to grow, is a pretty darn important life lesson.