Ephemeral pause in art: time for personal development

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A breather for artists, a silver lining in the dark.

In music, silent pauses always have a purpose. They help in understanding different sections of the score, let listeners travel from one syntactic unit to the next, and help us lay down memory for our favourite tunes.

Similarly, throughout the history of plagues and pandemics, its significant to notice the influence on arts. After any slight pause in a functioning society, arts have come out to be even stronger. Thus, in the history of arts as well, pauses play a significant role.

In the current situation, yes, the coronavirus has thrown challenges upon the arts industry in a scale and nature we’ve never experienced before. The safety measures to tackle the spread of the coronavirus may have put a break in proceedings of cultural performances and community gatherings, but this comes with a slim silver lining in the dark – an opportunity for all artists to self-improve and self-develop.

As life gets busy, an artist gets busier. With many events to perform or to attend, rehearsals to prepare, organisers to meet and media interviews to appear in, in these modern times an artist’s life can quickly become cluttered. However, to make sacred art pieces, it is more important to declutter and simplify life with simple pauses. And what better opportunity to do this than the COVID time.

Mindful decluttering requires time for personal development and growth. Often, we ask, why artists need personal development as much as the development of the skill, the musicality, or stage presence. The answer is that simple art development and personal development go hand in hand.

For constructive thinking and rethinking of your art to make it your own, an artist needs to divulge in the activities to support personal development. Here, constructive thinking is a way of thinking constructively about the world and environment. So instead of reacting to the most recent events, by a social media obsession, an artist can choose to interpret and then respond to in ways that will support personal growth and development and minimize friction with the external environment. This conscious pursuit of personal growth is dependent on few simple steps.

The very first step is about self-awareness. The conscious knowledge of one’s own individuality, values, beliefs, strengths and lacking is crucial in understanding the dilemma in becoming a world class artist.

Gathering information from the first step, then comes the establishment of a personal vision. Planning out an artistic vision is essential for an artist and the art to grow. Based on this vision, is the process of personal development. A personal artistic vision can be indifferent from the existing order of art or it may be rethinking a part or the whole process of making art. This personal vision is what defines an artist.

After these initial steps, begins the process of personal development which requires skill enhancement, mental conditioning and habit creation. Skill enhancement for an artist includes time management, project management, and personal and interpersonal relationship building skills.

In this process, the body and mind should be aligned to work together to achieve full potential. Hence the exercises for strengthening of mind and body both are necessities. Sometimes in the cluttered lifestyle, bad habits enter the routine of an artist. These can work as distractions from the artistic vision. Therefore, the final step of establishment of positive habit creations help produce the best outputs to the maximum potential and aids in enriching the art and the artist’s life.

While continuously learning and performing, many times artists also loose the difference in the aesthetics of an art as commanded and aesthetics of their own body and space. Therefore, such pauses in time supported by the personal development assist in finding similarities and variances in the two.

Art, like spoken language, can become ‘muddy’, therefore silence can add colours to phrases by removing the clutter. Epidemics have always altered societies, affecting personal lives, artists and intellectuals work, and the environment we live in. However, art responds to the environment and keeps on growing. Therefore, rather than being worried about the changing times, or publishing unpolished works on internet, an artist can use this opportune time for self-growth and learning. This is the time when artists can build upon their existing knowledge and assets to acquire more. A time to rethink and redesign, a time to constructively think and respond.

BY Sanchita Abrol
(Sanchita, a renowned choreographer, Indian Kathak dancer is known for her exquisite interpretations of literary pieces and also a Public Policy Specialist)