What is good art?

Yesterday evening I attended Pretty/Ugly by Renay Aumiller Dances (a fairly new modern dance company, based in Durham). This post isn’t really about the show, though it does cover things brought into my thoughts while (and after) watching the performance. I often find myself thinking about dance and art in generally when I attend shows – contemplating both the good and bad of these worlds and their connections. If So You Think You Can Dance is your idea of watching dance, you may already be confused as to why thinking needs to be involved at a dance performance, but bear with me, keep reading, and contemplate what other dance may be out there. (Then maybe even GO to a local performance instead of watching your tv one night…)

So, a few thoughts on dance as art:

  • Just because something is smart, that doesn’t make it good.
  • Just because something is unique, that doesn’t make it good.
  • Just because something is weird, that doesn’t make it good.
  • Just because something is difficult, that doesn’t make it good.
  • Just because something is beautiful, that doesn’t make it good.

Woah… so what make’s something good? I suppose in this case, since I am writing this, I determine what is good. If you were writing this, you’d determine it. If you your cat was writing this, he’d determine it. You see my point?

  • Just because something is good, that doesn’t mean people will go see it.

True story. So why are we concerned with being good? What does it matter? It obviously is subjective, what I believe is good art you might believe the opposite about. Also, just because something is good dance doesn’t mean I necessarily want to watch it. Well, maybe I would want to watch it, but who else would? Will hoards of people some to see your good art if it doesn’t also hit that super entertainment factor? And maybe it does that, too, only we didn’t know it would – so we didn’t go to the show. We weren’t sure what we would see, so we didn’t take the chance.

I suppose that is my point on this mini-rant. Take the chance. Experience something you knew nothing about previously. Don’t worry if it is good or not – just take it for the experience. And I wholly encourage that experience to be supporting local artists. Folks are eagerly shopping local for food and goods, but what about experiences? Don’t forget your performing artists! How much money have you spent to see touring dance companies or music groups? Have you seen your local companies this season? Just because a group doesn’t have a national tour or a big commercial advertising its next show, that doesn’t mean it is any more or less “good” than those groups with those things. That’s just marketing.

So go see a show! Support your local performing groups and artists. You might surprise yourself with what you’ve been missing right in your own community.


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