The expression, ‘performing arts’ embraces a wide range of art forms. For this article the specific ‘performing visual arts’ refers to the artistic shows enacted by performers on stages of relatively smaller dimensions before audiences in auditoria and their technological modifications. In other words, sports and acrobatics which one can call performing visual arts are not considered for this essay. Plays and dances of diverse genre form the ‘performing arts’ for our discussion.
This is the fourth in the series on old age and agreeable pastimes suited to it (the links to the first three being www.associatedcontent.com/article/5760308/, www.associated content.com/article/5790164/, www.associatedcontent.com/article/5809278).
Dancing is an activity of social significance which has its origin right from the days in the past when man began to live in societies. Gradually it must have developed into various art forms with their own special norms. The diverse forms of dances and dance dramas performed in India and have migrated to other countries, and the ones originating in other countries, have acquired some kind of international acclaim. Bharathanatyam and Kadhakali from India and ballet and tap dancing from the western regions constitute examples. Folk dances, perhaps, the earliest forms of organised dancing must have started as part of the merry making of social gatherings on various occasions. Though they may have had an essentially sensual basis to start with, many of them developed into highly artistic forms in the course of time. Some of the ancient dance forms originated in places of worship as dance dramas narrating mythological stories.
Gradually many folk dances refined into organized, structured art forms accompanied by music of various types. The Indian classical dances have Natya Sasthram written by a sage in antique times as the reference treatise. There may be authentic documents for the study and choreography of dance forms in all cultures.
During one’s childhood and adolescence, dances and dance dramas can be enjoyed for the story they depict and the accompanying music. As one advances in years, one can develop increasingly critical appreciation of these art forms. Eventually one’s enjoyment of these art forms will focus on the acting, the movements of the body, the expressions on the face, the quality and unison of the accompanying music etc. For a senior dance buff such an appreciation of a dance recital will be highly rewarding, physically mentally and spiritually.
Coming to the technological versions of the performing visual arts, we shall look at cinema. Compact discs (CD’s) and digital video discs (DVD’s) of programs of the performing, visual arts discussed in this article enable their enjoyers to have relatively inexpensive access tot these art forms. These of course are also their technological versions. Our further discussion will be confined to cinema.
Cinema has undergone a long history of evolution from the initial silent movies with great many technological deficiencies to the modern wide screen movies with reproduction of reality rivaling the virtual reality of a mirror image without its lateral inversion. The science and technology that go into the creation of cinema enable the medium to depict so many scenes and processes that we can only normally visualize in imagination or at best view their three dimensional models. Thus cinema becomes a virtual performing art.
Just as we have said in connection with the dance forms, cinema can be enjoyed in the younger days as virtual world of the story it tells. As our depth of its appreciation matures with advancing years, the histrionics of the stars, the skill of the director, the excellence of the techniques, the principle or moral sought to be conveyed, and so many other aspects become part of our appreciation. One important advantage of cinema is that it can be a medium of education superior in its scope to any other medium of conveying content. Many films, some of them based on important historical episodes serve as excellent sources of concise information which one can otherwise gather only with extensive research. The classic The Judgment at Nurenberg (English) and Jagadguru Adisankara (Malayalam) can serve as examples.
Thus, performing, visual arts can be made a source of enjoyment in one’s golden years. Their appreciation is a forward entertainment, that is, the enjoyer has to mentally interact actively with the visual viewed.
Sources: 1. Own experience. 2. Encyclopedia Britannica, Vols.8 and 28 3. Ghosh, M., Ed. and translator: The Natya Sastra Ascribed to Bharata Muni, Vol.1, Granthalaya Private Ltd., Calcutta, India (1967)