Emphasizing the Arts

I’ve been trying to understand lately why people don’t support the arts. Last week, I saw the most amazing dance show I have ever witnessed and was completely blown away. Defining Movement, Duke’s premier multicultural dance group that dances to raise money for different philanthropic groups, told a beautiful story through—you guessed it—movement in their show “Illuminate”.

via: Defining Movement Facebook

Storytelling is such a critical piece of our humanity and a necessary means to spread empathy and preserve histories, but I have never seen it so beautifully executed by moving bodies. The show’s description reads: “We all walk different paths of life, we grew up in different households, with different cultures and values. As we can see in today’s political climate it’s easy to let these differences keep us in the dark. This year we want to open people’s eyes, so they are aware of perspectives that are foreign to them. We want to appreciate the people who are different from us. We want to illuminate.” Full of emotional pieces, dance forms from all over the world, and a talented group of individuals, the show did exactly that.

via: Uh Hilo

Dance is one of the many art forms that flourish on this campus. While I’ve been to three different performances here, I can’t remember the last time I went to a dance show before Duke. Many of the dancers on stage are not only incredible artists, but full-time students pursuing degrees in very different realms other than that of the arts. For many, a career in the arts simply isn’t viable. There just isn’t money in it.

via: Economists Talk Art

I’ve always wanted to take an art history class, and as I discussed this with a friend of mine, she said she felt classes like that were too high-brow. As a frequent-museum goer (not just for the Nasher brunch), it took a bit of time for her comments to truly sink in. And then I got to thinking: why is there such a discrepancy between the starving artist and those who often support it? Most singers or dancers or painters barely scrape by while museum entrance fees, Broadway shows, and tickets to the ballet (just one of SO many types of dance shows) are so high? This sad reality limits these gripping, human stories to the elite.

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As millions of dollars previously dedicated to the arts is directed towards other areas of education, and the discrepancy with required STEM classes and art classes widens, human expression is forgotten. While I understand the importance of pushing more kids into coding or women into engineering, we already live in a world full of information and numbers. There are some things that can’t be quantified or mechanized. Those things are being forgotten. It’s time we pay homage to our humanity.