What Does it mean to be a true performance artist? – Ariellah asks Mira

TribalCon 2009

I adore Ariellah as a performer and as a human, so when she asked me the other day to write a brief paragraph on a subject I can, and (if you have ever found yourself in my classes you know) do tackle often in my workshops, I jumped at the chance. I have a considerable amount to say on the subject, in fact, I have a whole 25 hours intensive addressing this very question. An intensive that attracts powerful women and thus turns out some of the most incredible, courageous dancers I have had the pleasure of touching on their paths.

Here was my abbreviated, a bit scattered by jet-lag and mama brain, submission to her:

A: What does it mean to be a true performance artist? How can we capture the attention of our audience and touch their hearts, as they watch us dance? If this was your goal in your dance path, how would you tackle this,(how would you do this) and what might this feel and look like?

M: “True Performance Artist, is a foreboding title. Anyone can claim they are a “true artist” but I think what’s more pertinent is to ask, what makes you an effective performance artist? I think a truly effective artist is a vulnerable artist. One who speaks their truth from a tender, raw space; a human place. Your truth is yours, it is your body in all its wonder telling us a story. The story does not have to be obvious, it has to be true. It does not have to be languid in order to be tender, it just has to be authentic. Humans are not stupid, we know how to read each and every split second of an eye flicker, the minute shrug of the shoulder, you are not fooling anybody, we can see your thoughts when you are on stage. So the question becomes, How would you like the world to know you? Now that you have their rapt attention, What do you have to SAY?

How would you like the world to know you?

The best we can do as storytellers is to learn our language through which we speak, dance. The more you know, the stronger your vocabulary and articulation are, the richer your stories can be. But don’t underestimate the power of a simple Haiku, a story does not have to be complicated to be effective. That’s why I think vulnerability and honesty prevail. If you are true to your story and work hard in your practice your peers will notice you and name you “artist”. Beware of those who tout the title while skirting the process, mostly those are artists operating from insecurity and fear. I have found most “true artists” don’t need a title to justify their passion, and this shows in their work.”

Thank you Ariellah for including me and thank you for being an authentic artist, I am honored to be a friend, a peer, and a fan. ~mira