What will I be today?
All my life I have turned to forms of artistic expression to help me with this momentous question. My practice has included violin, theatre, singing, movement of various genres, vocal techniques, and Michael Chekhov acting technique. Each discipline gave me a direction, goals, and process towards discovery of my being and identity. I have been very satisfied working in these ways. Knowing what they have to offer, I have dedicated my career to teaching others how to have an artistic practice.
While the disciplines vary in approach and what we might call short term and long term goals, they have much in common. They direct us to aspects of our being. Each form takes us on a journey that connects us to essential and extraordinary human qualities and abilities. Studied in these ways, we are dealing in abstracts that feel more real and more alive than anything we experience in everyday existence.
At first, the abstract nature of any discipline seems vague if we have been living with most of our focus in the everyday world. But aren’t the common forms of our ordinary lives just too familiar, too repetitious, and finally boring? Doesn’t something within us rebel against this mundanity? Isn’t this protest the call of the artist in us?
Once we get past the hold that the ordinary can have on us, we are ready to explore the ‘something more’ that urges us to seek and find. As good students, we will embrace the discipline for its own sake, follow the teacher, commit to the practice. Then we will apply it to our goals as the opportunities arise. The practice will fail us, however, if we don’t reach beyond the discipline and career goals to a larger human view.
As I consider each form I have encountered, I realize that the more I connected each moment of practice with a larger sense of developing individuality, the more I got out of it. Our palette of possibilities is virtually infinite when we open ourselves to receive each movement, each rhythm, each quality, each color of our being in our effort. This is a private affair, a personal practice, that enlarges our sense of identity. It will be this larger sense of being that will be expressed as something marvelous when the time comes to express it in performance.
I support artists at all stages of their careers to engage in this solo endeavor of self discovery. Having spent many hours in the studio, I know the benefits and the challenges. You do need a process. You do need self motivation and follow-through, which can be a huge obstacle in our crazy world, especially when you are out of school and responsible for your own continued development. You can link this effort to career goals to spur you on, but keep your scope large. Keep working on your individual palette of possibilities!