In the Performing Arts, It’s Okay to Take a Chance.


You know that the performing arts are changing. Deep down you can’t deny that it is happening, and that it is happening very fast. One one hand, you have to honor the traditions of your art form while maintaining your individual sense of artistry. On the other, you may want to do things differently.  You are compelled to be unique, to find your own creative voice, your own particular stamp, your mark on the world. You may be searching how to reconcile these two different perspectives, don’t worry it can be done!

It is common to fill our minds with thoughts of self-doubt. We often think that neither glory nor artistic satisfaction await us at the end of our individual ideas– but only criticism and ridicule from our audience or peers. Sounds depressing? You’re right it is. You may feel so pressured to conform to the normal standards of your artistic discipline that you feel like you no longer have a choice in the matter of what you are supposedly creating. I know from experience that this can be especially prevalent in music performance.
But it doesn’t have to be this way, and you don’t have to be locked in a bitter self-conflict. You’ll just have to be willing to take a chance.

The time has come when we put away the notion that as artists, performers, and more generally as people, that to take chances and roll the creative dice is too dangerous or wrong. Taking creative chances is right. Taking creative chances is your right as an artist and we learn from our risks and our boundaries (or the absence of them). Artistic risk taking lets us use our creativity in new ways– it keeps the game interesting.

Taking a creative risk sounds exotic and sexy, but it doesn’t have to be extreme. It can be a simple, small change in the work you do– the way you present yourself onstage, trying to put an ounce more of passion into your music, trying a different performance venue. You can start making small changes that will lead to big risks, and hopefully, a big payoff. Remember, a bucket of water started with the first drop.

Don’t be afraid to entertain that little idea that has been nagging you when perform. But more importantly, don’t fear those who will throw their hands up at the first sign of veering from the well-worn path. Though you might face some opposition at first, remember you are rolling the dice with the unknown and people’s first reaction to uncertainty is often fear. That’s okay, because it will pass in time.

What is important is that you have to take the chance. When you do so, you send a message to the world that you are not a cookie-cutter artist. You are different and you embrace your individuality. In the performing arts of the 21st century, you have to ask yourself– what makes me different from everyone else? What makes my art unique among other musicians, dancers, actors, poets, etc.?

You can do this. You have every right to– and I hope you will.

Stay tuned and have a great day,


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