By Ekaterina Lapaeva
In the previous article, “Authenticity versus Commercialism,” I took the initiative to portray in words an existing issue of today’s competitive dancing. Part 1 of the article was a mere reflection of observation from an event with the purpose of highlighting what seemed to be a common issue for all. The feedback I received from the readers reconfirmed that “Authenticity” is a very popular subject in our dance scene today. I was asked by many to continue my journey towards discovery of “Authenticity” in our dance form, as well as to provide some more informative content on the subject itself.
In this part 2, I am willingly sharing some of my in depth analyses, together with providing some knowledgeable content I came about in my academic and personal studies related to “Authenticity” from Psychology, Philosophy, and Arts.
In the land full of rampant Commercialisation we are searching for Authenticity.
- What does it actually mean to be an Authentic Dancer/Dance Performer?
- What does it meant to be an Authentic Latin-American or Ballroom Dancer?
- What do we take into account when evaluating somebody’s dance performance as Authentic or Inauthentic?
- When more often would we enjoy and name it an Authentic performance: at competitions or demonstrations/show dance programmes of top couples?
- Is it possible that the performance of a couple is Authentic,the dancers are Authentic but their “cha cha cha” isn’t? And could it be possible that the “cha cha cha” of another couple looks and feels Authentic but the dancers and the whole performance is somewhat lacking Authenticity?
- Are we actually all looking for the same Authenticity in our unique dance form?
- How do we define and understand “Authenticity” and is it definable?
- When using the word “AUTHENTICITY” in OUR FORMAT of COMPETITIVE DANCE SPORT do we all actually speak one language and mean the same?
Authenticity and dance as a performing art
Authenticity is one of those qualities that are not easily defined.
While this word may be newly circulated, its roots go way back, deep within the history of mankind and the varied texts that have attempted to capture the true nature of the human spirit.
The word “Authenticity” comes from the Greek root “authentikos”, meaning: Author, Authority, Original, Primary. Thus, being authentic means you are the Author and Authority of your life. It means the Truth — Your Truth — Fully exposed. It means being real, no phoniness, pretending or masking who you really are. It means being totally comfortable in your own skin.
Authenticity is a technical term used in psychology as well as existential philosophy and aesthetics. In existentialism, authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character, despite external pressures; the conscious self is seen as coming to terms with being in a material world and with encountering external forces, pressures and influences which are very different from, and than, itself. (Wikipedia)
Although, Authenticity refers to the truthfulness of origins, attributions, commitments, sincerity, devotion, and intentions, Authentic, like its known near-relations, “real,” “genuine,” and “true,” is what J.L. Austin called a dimension word, — a term whose meaning remains uncertain until we know what dimension of its referent is being talked about.
Dance is a type of art, that generally involves movement of the body, often rhythmic and to music. It is performed in many cultures as a form of emotional expression, or exercise, in a spiritual or performance setting, and is sometimes used to express ideas or tell a story. Dance may also be regarded as a form of nonverbal communication. Definitions of what constitutes dance can depend on social and cultural norms and aesthetic, artistic and moral sensibilities.(Wikipedia)
Dance is type of art that falls under category of Performing Arts.
Performing arts are art forms in which artists use their body or voice to convey artistic expression—as opposed to visual arts, in which artists use paint/canvas or various materials to create physical art objects. (Wikipedia)
Considering the fact that Dance is a Performing ART, I find it an unavoidable matter to logically drift into the fascinating subject of Authenticity in Arts.
Authenticity in Arts
Authenticity in Arts is recognised in the 5 components, each of which value and degree of substantial matter depends on a form of art.
- Authenticity of Provenance
- Cultural Authenticity
- Authenticity of Performance
- Authenticity of Expression
- Authenticity of Experience
Denis Duton distinguishes between NOMINAL AUTHENTICITY and EXPRESSIVE AUTHENTICITY
Nominal authenticity, defined simply as the correct identification of the origins, authorship, or provenance of an object, ensuring that an object of aesthetic experience is properly named.
Expressive Authenticity refers to how much the work possesses original or inherent authority, how much sincerity, genuineness of expression, and moral passion the artist or performer puts into the work.
Considering the written above,we may now face a practical question of matter of who/what is Authentic,and who/what is valued as more important in our Latin American, Ballroom competitive dance form in 2013:
The Authenticity of the Dance itself?
The Authenticity of the Performer or Authentic act/way of Performing?
The Authenticity of the Art as a final result of not necessarily Authentic components?
If the education of Authenticity of our dance form is to be developed, what components of Authenticity require a deeper look at:
Authenticity of each Dance independently (Cultural Authenticity,or Authenticity of style or Tradition)? Authenticity of/in Performance? Or Authenticity of/in Arts? All of them? Maybe something else?
Not to forget,we have to undoubtedly take into account that behind, or at the core of all this is :
2. MOVES to
3. MUSIC and is
Therefore, we might want to consider looking at :
2. Authenticity of Movement,
3. Authenticity of/in Music,
4. Authenticity of Expression.
Furthermore, let us also question : Who decides/evaluates if the end product was Authentic or not?,- the Dancer him/herself and the Viewer (Audience, Judge, Teacher/Coach, Dance Partner) are aligned to make that highly difficult and arguable evaluation or judgement.
Now, the whole subject of Authenticity of Experience comes up, as if to lead us even deeper into the tanglement.
Taking a deeper look at Nominal Authenticity (looked as Traditional/Cultural in particular case) of each dance we might sincerely realise and accept that it is a difficult, if not impossible task of truly achieving, as the aspects, such as: Music,Choreography, Outfits, Shoes, Make up (tan), Lighting, Hall, The given competitive dance sport format, etc.. do not truly resemble the academic definition of what would be a True Traditional/Cultural Authenticity presented in each dance. As well as, how many competitors have/had the possibility of visiting the respective countries of origins and investing time and means into the in depth study of each separate dance in order to get as close to the True Nominal Authenticity as possible?
Expressive Authenticity is a permanent part of the conceptual topography of our understanding of art.
Although, Expressive Authenticity seemingly has more chances of emerging in our dance form, at the end of the day it still comes down to the statement from J.L. Austin ,where he called “Authentic” – a “Dimension Word,” – a term whose meaning remains uncertain until we know what dimension of its referent is being talked about.
Hence, “Authentic” is a highly arguable term, that requires a clear understanding and defining which aspect is being looked at; the word “Authenticity” (as mentioned earlier) comes from the Greek root “authentikos”, meaning : uthor, Authority, Original, Primary, and that’s the “Authenticity” we have the most chances of achieving and scintillating towards others, in my humble opinion.
The philosophy of “Life is Art” and “Art is Life” is the one that I keep ever present in my daily life, and I would love to share it.
It is a philosophy that has an aesthetic view of life,that believes and proposes that life and art are impossible to divide from one another. Art is neither stagnant or lifeless, but survives on its own without requiring a specific or concrete form. It can be seen, smelt, heard, tasted and felt in all aspects of life and living. Life and art are symbiotic, – it is impossible for one to exist without the other. Art goes beyond an appreciation for the aesthetic and raises us to a celebration of living. Art is not concerned with age or gender, race, religion or labels that are commonly used to categorise and identify people in this world.
The philosophy believes in making art a part of the entirety of life.
Truly “Authentic” Art (in a philosophical understanding of it) takes the painting off the wall above the living room sofa and brings it to the forefront of everything.
The search for Authenticity begins by taking the first step, which in my experience is to begin a process of deep self-reflection.
Are you ready to discover your own answers to these questions? Are you willing to release old thoughts and belief patterns as you find your own truth?
Deep reflection opens the door to personal awareness,—an awareness that is not parroting what you have been conditioned to believe, or what first flows through your thoughts/words/deeds.Authenticity requires that you get to know yourself, intimately. It also beckons you to be able to relate openly, honestly, with others at any time.
Ancient teachings say the Authentic Self comes from that creative spark that emerged to create the entire cosmos. We experience it, at the level of consciousness, as an energy, an impulse that seems to continuously strive to create, improve, expand – evolve – at every level of life. It’s a most powerful drive, a passion that emerges from the ground of consciousness itself. Each living person is connected to this consciousness and has continuous access to this basic, most natural state, whether aware of it or not.
Authenticity is not a skill or something we can buy. We become Authentic one moment at a time. It is also about practicing what you believe and preach. We choose Authenticity in every thought, every feeling, every action and every creation. It comes from deep within, and when you touch it, you know it, you feel it, and so does everyone around you.
Authenticity is about aligning your words with your deeds in Dance as in Life and in Life as in Dance.
Austin,J.L “The Meaning of a Word”
Duton,D “Authenticity in Art”
Rafferty,K.A “Get Naked, Get Real, Get Happy:Becoming Your Authentic Self”