Tag Archives: Performing Arts

Beauty & the Beast – A Blight on Our Society, or A Magical Break?

Unless you've been living under a rock lately, you've probably heard about the little movie that's out now called Beauty & the Beast. I was lucky enough to catch this one on opening weekend and it has been interesting to hear people's reactions as they've made their way to the theater. Yes, there's been controversy…
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7 Life Lessons from the Oscars

  As one of the "artsy" kids, the Oscars were always like my Super Bowl. I had big dreams and knew I was going to work in Hollywood someday. The Oscars - Hollywood-bound or not - always represented to me that crazy dreams can and do come true. As I got older and became more…
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They Want to Do What?!?

Incensed. That is the word I would use to describe what I felt when I found out that the City of Saratoga wants to replace the historical Music Hall with offices... Those of us involved with the arts world know just how important the arts are. There is now a lot of scientific proof about…
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Just a Thought: A Different Perspective

Our society tends to be very linear these days. There seems to be a regulation or procedure for everything. Social media is overflowing with people constantly arguing about which side is "right" or "wrong." Why does there always only have to be just one answer? The beauty in this world comes from the differences. Some…
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National Dance Day

It's that time of year again! Every year on the last Saturday in July, the country celebrates National Dance Day. This Saturday, July 27th marks the day of fun this year, with dance events going on around the country. EVERYONE is encouraged to do some sort of movement to celebrate the day - dancer or…
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Suddenly I’m Flying

I know I've said it before - Dance is magic. Theater is magic. Blah Blah Blah But true. If you've never felt that feeling - that electric feeling - then I truly feel sorry for you. It is a feeling like no other that I have ever experienced. Nothing can compare to that natural high,…
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How Do the Performing Arts Serve the Larger Community?

A while back I posted on here about an interview I participated in for a student's senior project. I happened upon this again recently and thought I would continue to post a couple of the questions since they are still very relevant today. 2. How do you think dance/teaching/performance/the Performing Arts in general serves the…
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The Flurry Hits Saratoga

LIKE MUSIC?  LIKE DANCE? Then you have to be in Saratoga, NY this weekend for the 26th Annual Flurry Festival, February 15th-17th, 2013. From 7pm on Friday through 6pm Sunday, The Flurry is a celebration of dance and music from around the world and offers almost non-stop workshops and performances throughout downtown. With events for every level…
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New York Live Arts (NYLA), the movement arts group led by renowned choreographer Bill T. Jones, recently announced that it would begin hosting an annual festival dedicated to exploring the interplay of art and ideas. Dubbed “Live Arts,” the festival will explore a different sub-theme each year. The first annual festival, which will run from April 17-21 in New York City, is tentatively titled “The World of Oliver Sacks” and will commemorate the great body of work Sacks has contributed to the world of neurology and, more specifically, the understanding of the connection between creative expression and the body. Outside of the medical world, Sacks is best known for his memoir Awakenings, which inspired the 1990 film starring Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams.

The schedule for the five-day festival has already been released, and for anyone interested in the world of artistic expression, or the world of science, there’s much to be excited about. Highlights include:

  • Jones and Sacks will participate in a keynote conversation about the overlaps in the world of neurology and the world of choreography
  • Bill Morrison will premiere his new film, RE:Awakenings, which is based on original footage shot by Sacks
  • Many of the neurologist’s former patients will sit on panels to discuss the impact of Sack’s creative inclinations on their healing and coping processes
  • Philosophers, writers, and doctors will host discussions dedicated to the doctor’s many critically-acclaimed books

Though not all the events are free, ticket prices are low enough to make them accessible to the general community. Overall, the new festival promises to be engaging, enlightening, and educational.

In perusing the events schedule, however, I’ve found what seems to me a disappointing oversight in the content. As the festival is hosted by NYLA, the emphasis on music and dance-related material makes sense and I’d happily attend any of the advertised panels, performances, or discussions. But I can’t help but yearn for an event—just one—dedicated to the exploring the relationship between writing and health. Sacks is a prolific writer who, if my experience is any benchmark, has had a profound influence on writers everywhere. Through his many medically inclined but exceptionally readable books, Sacks has proven that reflective personal narrative and detailed, informative scientific prose are not mutually exclusive.

Yet, based on the information made available so far, only one of the festival’s events will deal directly with Sacks the writer, but not from the perspective of the mind-body connection. The moderated panel “Sacks the Writer: Process and Influence,” will feature two of the doctor’s editors and two fellow writers discussing the lasting impact of Sacks’ twelve books and countless articles on the writing world. But Sacks himself, it seems, will not speak and the connection between the writing process and mental and physical health won’t necessarily be explored.

As someone who began writing at a very young age, I believe quite strongly in the cathartic power of the written word, of journaling, of crafting a pro-con list before making a difficult decision. Research has confirmed the positive effects of writing (both creative writing like poetry and autobiographical writing) on patients in both mental and physical distress, and therapeutic writing workshops are interestingly beginning to gain popularity even as talk therapy is on the decline.

If the first Live Arts festival is going to explore Sacks’ contribution to our understanding of the connection between art and health, I think it would be incredibly enlightening to hear the doctor speak about the impact writing has had on his well-being. I imagine Sacks’ day-to-day life must often be excessively stressful. A large portion of his medical career has been spent working with patients in the direst circumstances—patients with debilitating disabilities and little will to live. Sacks chronicles these interactions beautifully in his essays and books but rarely directly confronts his own emotional state, and this reader can’t help but wonder if the doctor turner author has ever reflected on the role writing has played in his ability to sustain himself in such an emotionally and mentally straining field of work.

In a recent interview with The Daily Beast, Sacks told a reporter, “It infuriates me not to be able to write something that has popped into my mind.” To me, this indicates that Sacks does see writing as a calming activity, as I like to think most writers do. Adding a conversation about this connection, about the role of writing in the pursuance of greater overall well-being, to the Live Arts lineup could encourage continued conversation and awareness around the phenomenal impact writing can have on a person’s emotional, mental and physical health. Like dancing, playing an instrument, or composing a song, writing is an inherently creative and active process that can offer emotional relief and foster greater self-awareness. Taking a little time out of each day to reflect, in writing, on your emotional state can help you heal after a traumatic event, serve as an outlet for working out minor frustrations without falling victim to needless stressors, or allow you to celebrate and preserve positive experiences. And while I’m sure Oliver Sacks would agree, I nevertheless think the greater Live Arts audience could benefit from hearing the doctor’s experiences with writing as a form of catharsis.

Just a thought.

- Jean-Ann Kubler

Extended Deadline for Film Entries!

Due to an influx of films, the Ballston Spa International Film Festival has extended their entry deadline to May 15, 2012.  Get those short films in ASAP to be considered in this fantastic film festival this summer! See Seeking Short Films! for all the info. Good luck!
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