Exploring

My Journey Through the Arts
By Nathan Durkin

Exploring Arts and Creativity has really lived up to its name. Through this class I have learned about many forms of art that I never would have even given a second thought to. There were some familiar art forms for me, such as plays and symphonies, that I’ve enjoyed on my own in the past. Others, such as dance and opera, are ones that I haven’t been exposed to as much, if at all. This class allowed me to see all art, from most familiar to things I never would have imagined existing. Below, I reflect upon each of the explorations I’ve gone through this semester.

Jupiter String Quartet:

The first show we went to see was a familiar and exciting one for me. I remember my eyes being glued to the stage when Tai Chi master Chungliang Al Huang was performing, taking in every movement he made. It strengthened my view of the martial arts I’ve spend 10 years studying being something more than self-defense, being a true art form. Not much else from the show stuck with me – though I enjoyed the strings and the dancing, as a martial artist, it was the Tai Chi I was there for.

The Rape of Lucretia:

The second show, The Rape of Lucretia, was also somewhat familiar to me. I studied Latin for 4 years in high school, so I’m quite familiar with the story. However, the unknown element to me was the medium: an opera. The only thing I knew about the opera before this show was that in the cartoons I watched as a kid, the characters who went to operas were either portrayed as having bad taste or were portrayed as being excessively bored and terrified at the thought of going to one. So, my views going into the opera were not particularly high. While it was not as bad as those cartoons would have had me believe, I recall feeling as though something in the storytelling was lost by making this into an opera. Yes, the singing was magnificent, but the strange, warped pacing combined with the need to glance up at the words and back down at the show every few seconds made it quite difficult for me to enjoy.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time:

This time, the show was in a medium I am quite familiar with, but the story was mostly unknown to me. There’s always something magical about going to a live play such as this. I have many fond memories from my childhood of going to plays – they always take you somewhere that you can’t really go through a screen. This play one-upped all of the other plays I’ve seen in that regard. I remember feeling as though I were actually in the play – the show was set up such that I felt as though I were the main character. All of his thoughts and feelings were shown on the stage, and it was as if I were an extension of his brain, processing what is going on in his world. It was one of the most fascinating experiences I’ve ever had with a play, and one I’ll not soon forget.
Dorrance Dance:

Dorrance Dance was the first show that had zero familiar elements for me going into it. Tap dancing was not something I knew anything about, I knew nothing about the tap dancers, nothing about the dances, nothing outside of the brief overview from class. And, to be entirely honest, there’s a reason that I wasn’t exposed to tap dance in the past. Looking back, it just isn’t something that interested me very much. I remember I liked the jazzy music in the first dance, I remember I thought the second dance was very strange, and I remember counting minutes in my head because the third dance was just so long and I wasn’t all that engaged in it. I tried coming up with stories in my head to make the dance more interesting to me, but nothing really stuck with me about that dance other than my desire for it to end. Don’t get me wrong, I respect the skill the dancers displayed – I remember them being quite good, clearly displaying the immense amount of work they’ve all done to be there. Tap dance, as I found out, just doesn’t interest me.
San Fransisco Symphony:

This show was probably the most exciting show for me when I first got the syllabus. I love symphonic music dearly – I often listen to orchestral songs when I’m driving by myself in the car. I’m not a music expert or anything, I just love the way orchestras and symphonies sound. All in all, I was not disappointed. The players were fantastic, the music was wonderful, and it all made for a relaxing end to my day, especially considering the midterm I had taken an hour before! I don’t remember much specifically, I just remember greatly appreciating a very familiar medium of work.
Andersson Dance and Scottish Ensemble:

This was the show that I left not knowing what had happened. I tried to explain the experience I had just had to my friends, but I couldn’t find the words for it. The medium for this show I don’t think can be classified as music or dance – it really can only be classified as an experience. It was strange, confusing, and I had no idea what was happening. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I don’t think I ever will again. And I think there’s a reason for that. Again, this show was not one that I particularly enjoyed. It took a lot of talent, effort, and hard work to accomplish what they did, but I don’t think this was an experience I personally needed to live through to make my life feel complete.

All in all, reflecting back on these shows, I realize that the ones I’d enjoyed the most were the ones in my comfort zone. Yet before I began thinking about how to write this post, before I began really dissecting all of the shows I’ve seen this semester, I thought the class had been fun for taking me out of my comfort zone. I suppose that’s where the value of the class really comes from – getting out of your comfort zone and seeing something new. The things I’ve been seeking out to experience on my own, the things I’ve enjoyed for years, those were the shows I enjoyed. But the value I found out of this class was, strangely enough, the shows I didn’t really like. I was shown an entirely new world of opera, dance, and experience that I never would have sought out on my own. I may not like it, but a lot of time and effort go into it, and it has been very much worth my time to explore the fantastic things that us human beings come up with and execute. Overall, I reiterate that this class has truly lived up to its name: exploring.

I think I might go see what an art gallery is like next!

Pictures taken by Nathan Durkin

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