Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014
I was thinking a lot about the role of the artist in audience engagement when I stumbled across this BBC news piece on Dame Gillian Lynne. After watching the segment, I couldn’t help but feel inspired. The Bafta and Olivier award-winning choreographer known for her work on shows such as Cats and Phantom of the Opera, now 88-years-old, is resurrecting and choreographing a dance piece she performed over 70 years ago. Even then, she and her fellow artists were finding ways to engage audiences that would not have typically chosen to attend a ballet, by bringing the performance to them. Lynne mentions how the group of soldiers they were brought in to perform for during World War II were probably pretty unreceptive at first, but “the results were wonderful and then they became fans.” This is a really great example of what the arts can do, of how an artist can turn a skeptical crowd into believers, and how old material can be resurrected and redefined for new audiences.
Lynne also has a list of 10 tips for choreography that I think can be applied really well to most areas of the arts.
When asked if she’s going to retire anytime soon, Lynne says, “No, no, I dare not.” I sure hope I look that good at 88!