Authenticity versus commercialism Part I

By Ekaterina Lapaeva

Recently, attending the UK Open Championships in my newly formed role of non participant, I have invested a lot of my time observing the happening which led me to starting somewhat of a research out of my own curiosity.

I was interested to find out how engaging the whole experience of competing, judging or watching a competition felt to all the main attending parties, such as: Competitors, Judges and the Audience. Having an easy approach to all of them was convenient and so I began my research by talking to people, asking simple questions and taking short notes for my own record. It became very quickly appealing that most repetitive words in my notes list were “bored” as a winner, “tired” as runner up and “disappointed” reaching the 3rd place of the ‘mostly used words’ competition context. And so I decided to proceed with my research by developing a deeper communication about this, aiming to get to the root of what seemed to be a common issue for all. It appeared to be that the boredom, tiredness and disappointment had nothing to do with the event or organisation itself as 99% of the interviewed found it to be a top class event towards which most of them felt great respect and valued it highly in every aspect.

“If the event itself is not a problem then what is?” was my next question to ask. I was ready to write and expecting various replies to this question, but no, there were no more word competition going on in my notes, only one winner — only one word. DANCING it was, and to be more concrete: today’s dancing or — dancing nowadays.

Authenticity, creativity, originality, artistry, and individualism  were mentioned as missing in today’s dancing

In further private discussions it was found to be sound that authenticity, creativity, originality, artistry, and individualism were majorly mentioned as missing/lacking in today’s dancing, interestingly, they were passionately spoken of by all the three parties.

Here is a short proclamation of the research:

From the judges point of view it felt to be somewhat boring and tiring experience of finding that ‘gold fish in the packed aquarium full of same looking fish’. As well as, majority commented on overly exaggerated importance put by dancers on amount of glitter and decorative stones used in today’s outfits, which they found to be growing with every following event and becoming almost a second competition.

Who’s outfits shine the most

Hardly did they find it complemented their desperate search for originality, individualism, authenticity etc.. A lot of competitors felt to be discouraged, tired, bored and disappointed which superficially could be easily explained as ‘normal’ self defence response in a competitive field, but by talking deeper about it with fellow competitors I found out that was not really the issue. Again, the majority spoke of their disappointment in the actual, what they called fashion of today’s dancing and its demands in order to succeed. The dancers spoke passionately of how now they, miss/lack the creativity, originality, authenticity, individualism etc.. They expressed their vivid view on commercialism growing more and more, and although they all felt no positive feelings towards it at all, alas – all found it to be the only way to get some success today, therefore keeping up to the ‘game’. It is obvious how this conflict of the desire and the action, as well as the feeling of being victimised is hardly empowering and inspiring place to be, but this is the situation which majority of today’s competitors/performers/artists become the most aware of.

It is commonly known that the one who finds himself being bored will be judged to be boring by his/her surroundings. You would not be therefore surprised to hear that my interviewed spectators were commonly declaring feelings of boredom. The same subject of authenticity versus commercialism came up one more time. The audience sounded to be warned of the course today’s dancing is taking. They all felt generally unengaged in the happening, missing/lacking/ looking for meaningful and aesthetically fine experiences which have not met their expectations and caused boredom and disappointment.

As the dancers/ competitors/ performers/ artists are the content of any dance sport event, the correlation between all was profound indeed. It is interesting that this 3 sided factual conflict of all parties ,which seems to have circled or ‘triangled’ itself, does not allow neither the dancers, nor the spectators or the judges to fulfil their desires and expectations for the wholeness of experience at competitions.

That which is static and repetitive is boring. That which is dynamic and random is confusing. In between lies art.” Quotation from John A.Locke

In the land full of rampant Commercialisation we are searching for Authenticity. So where do we go from this point? Is there any hope for a positive change? Who shall break the circle? I do believe it is in the hands of the dancers at the most but would require some open mind, desire to take actions, persistence and faith. It is possible to achieve fast success via commercialisation, but if it is desired to have an authentic experience of the journey as well as lasting successful career, there are some principles in authenticity that do not go hand in hand with ‘fast’. Instead it requires passion and time investment into discovery, development and education; the development of ‘I + Dance ‘ relationship.

In my humble opinion, taking more risks and the responsibility for own actions and the outcome, experimenting, stepping out of the victimised position into a zone of action and more empowered and productive place would be a good start.

  • Believe your art is uncompromised on the staircase towards success
  • Believe you took the road less traveled and triumphed
  • Believe that at the end of the day you are beholden to only one master … YOURSELF

To be continued…
Ekaterina Lapaeva

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