Festival Executive Director Mary Lou Aleskie reflects on artistry and interdependence

“9/11 is a litmus test of our humanity”…
Bill T. Jones, choreographer/director
(link to video)

MaryLouAleskie.jpgWith the precision and directness of a lightening bolt, in words and movement Bill has the amazing ability to wake us up, to get our attention, to make us think. What a monotone place the world would be without him and artists like him.

I just returned from Edinburgh where I was fortunate enough to be an invited delegate of the British Council along with 200 colleagues from around the world to the British Showcase at the famed Edinburgh Fringe.

I have recently been feeling a heightened sense of awe toward the world of the performing artist. This is a world that takes an idea and turns it into an animated form of self-expression that requires the artistry and attention of others for its realization. This is a world of trust that turns the thoughts and inspiration of the individual into a community of sharing. It is a world that can only exist in its interdependence and the trust that comes from believing in those around you.

On the surface this seems to me a stunning leap of faith especially in a world as volatile and cynical as ours can be. Yet it is our artists who work together, who depend on one another to create. Their collaborations remind us of the possibility, the hope, and the wonder of our common humanity.

This notion struck me while watching an exquisite performance of the Scottish Royal Ballet in a newly choreographed work set to an unlikely but delightful pairing of Steve Reich and Mozart. I began to think about the battalion of faceless creators across the ages from Mozart himself to the dancers, designers, musicians, coaches, and more, all working together to share their collective creation with room after room full of expectant observers whom they hoped to delight. And there we were, all of us sitting in the dark, measuring the result of the performance though our own lens, reaping the benefit of artistic collaboration which stretched not only across disciplines, but across time.

What an awe-inspiring act of hopeful wonder is this world of the performing artist as a model for life in an interdependent world where the hopes and dreams of the many are made possible through thoughtful and responsible actions of individuals.

With this in mind, it is gratifying to know that political thinker and scholar, Benjamin Barber, has put artists at the center of his Interdependence Day celebration coming up this weekend in New York. The Festival is happy to be a program partner of this initiative with the online broadcast of our MUSIC, WARFARE AND THE SOLDIER'S STORY panel featuring a discussion on the role of music in warfare led by WNYC’s John Schaeffer, composer David T. Little, decorated veteran Moe Armstrong, and Musicorp founder, Arthur Bloom.

We invite you to embrace our collective interdependence by attending the Interdependence Celebration and Forum either online or live in New York. It is free and not too late to register.  Whatever you decide to do this weekend, take a moment to consider what it means for each of us to live in the world as "citizens without borders." Let us recognize our responsibilities to each other as human beings and perhaps consider our personal "litmus test for our humanity." In addition to connecting online with the Interdependent Movement, I am looking forward to a pot luck dinner with neighbors.