It’s been a while since my last time being a patron of the arts. By arts, I’m talking fine arts, a.k.a. something I usually don’t understand a.k.a. modern dance. So this past weekend, I attended February Dance at the Krannert Center. It was a great show and it was probably my first time genuinely enjoying modern dance. Part of the reason definitely has to do with the music accompanying the performances. In fact, I feel that music is the defining factor for the average joe to enjoy modern dance.
To be very blunt and honest, I don’t understand modern dance at all. Modern dance is strange. I don’t know even know how to start to appreciate the performances. Modern dance to my friends and me, is analogous to a child and medicine forced down his throat. It’s unpleasant because we don’t understand it and it certainly isn’t a sweet experience. I really feel like it’s not an instantly accessible art.
Though music isn’t the focus of dance, it’s certainly a mood setter. As a layman at modern dance, it’s important for me to find something to relate to. Unfortunately, I can’t easily relate to the dancers, so I turn to their movements. But when the movements get boring I listen to the music. However, it’s rare to hear nice music at these shows. Usually the audience just gets blasted with industrial sounds or random chatter. That’s describing a good case, things can get much worse. For example, last year I listened to a girl scream for 15 minutes as she walked around in spilled milk. Obviously, the dancers and choreographers should be commended for their extreme skill and effort, but what’s the point if the general experience is so unpleasant for the untrained viewer? Even if there’s a message to the piece, it’s lost if I can’t engage myself.
In any case, February Dance was an eye opener. The show opened with exactly what I expected. I saw people move around and jumping for 15 minutes while I got drowned by industrial noise. But from the second piece on, everything just took off and soared away. The greatest contributor to my sudden surge in interest and approval was the music. The rest of the performance was accompanied with exciting or lively music. The dancers were moving to the guitar melodies, to the French singing, to the folk songs. Through the discord there was also a pleasant accord. So really, to the average joe, music is really what can make or completely break a modern dance piece.
But folks, I didn’t write today to tell you about how I’ve finally enjoyed a dance piece. That would be silly. I have written today to bring the subject of Coughing Audience Syndrome to the public. Through all of this dance, I was reminded of one extremely annoying thing. Why is it that people cough so much at artistic performances? I’ve noticed this only happens in old-school performances like classical music and other performing arts. At every intermission, the whole theatre starts to cough. It’s ridiculous. This never happens at the movie theatre either. This phenomena is isolated to the performing arts.
I don’t fully understand this Coughing Audience Syndrome, but I promise as a responsible citizen of the United States, that I will investigate this thoroughly. I will update soon.