Service Through Beauty

October 7/2015


Eric Booth, Head Cheerleader for Teaching Artists in the USDAC National Cabinet

I envision a wide-scale rediscovery of what a “performance” can mean. I envision highly interactive, viscerally-relevant explorations of human issues that all sectors of our society share—containing some performance elements that extend and expand the meaning found in the human interaction. I recently experienced one with Evelyn Glennie as a part of the Vermont Creative Schools Initiative. Evelyn was the focal point, but the investigation was about “what listening means in our lives.” We had interviewing of the audience in clumps, and shared intimate listenings, like the lady who can only get to sleep with her ear on her cat, listening to the symphony of purring. We performed improvisations with Evelyn that included audience members, and a piece like “4:33” by John Cage that the audience performed and segued into one of the most haunting marimba performances by Evelyn I have ever heard—one audience member said that when it started she couldn’t tell if it were the marimba or the sound of a packed house filled with love. The audience of everyday Vermonters was open-hearted and increasingly joyful, and the event built community but even more, it built inclusive empathy. I imagine this kind of event becoming a staple of all arts organizations, and I thrill to imagine what arts organizations will have to learn in the preparation of such events to achieve a level of service through beauty.