Performing Arts

(September 17-22, 2009)

The World Wide Panorama

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Theme Essay: Performing Arts

The essay conveys the team’s idea of the event. It is usually published together with the Theme announcement and offers a starting point for the contributing photographers.

Performing Arts

by Pat Swovelin

The theme "Performing Arts" includes the traditional music, drama and dance that we think of as the performing arts (Wikipedia article) but it also includes many other things.

It's the girl strutting her stuff on the beach, the traffic cop in the middle of the intersection wearing white gloves directing traffic with a flourish or the guy at work telling yet another fishing story ("I swear it was THIS big!") by the water cooler. Kids showing off for their friends on the playground, the guy hawking products on a street corner, the salesman at a used car lot, trial attorneys (although you'd never get to shoot in a court room). An athlete celebrating a score during a game, the muscle-bound guy working out to impress the ladies, models on the runway at a fashion show.

It's the actors waiting in the wings, ready to go on. It's the sushi chef with his flashing knives. It's the High School marching band or the ballet dancers endlessly practicing so no one makes a mistake when everyone is watching. It's the garage band playing at a local/county/ state fair or an ethnic dance troupe performing in the street in their colorful costumes. It's a command performance for the Queen. It's the school play.

A politician giving a speech trying to drum up votes or the docent explaining something in a museum. It's the Professor that all of the students want to take a class with because he's so animated when he teaches. It's the actor rehearsing his lines in front of the bathroom mirror (to be "bathroom ready" when he shows up onset/onstage the next day). It's gymnasts practicing their routine so they can "Wow!" the judges in the next competition.

People are always performing for other people either consciously or unconsciously, so the possibilities are endless. With this event we'll get a real sampling of what people are like all over the planet, ranging from a performance at the White House to the man on the street tipping his hat to the ladies he passes.

But for those of you that don't have access to or are reluctant to shoot people performing, Performing Arts is more than just that. A *lot* more. It's all of the things "behind the curtain" that we don't see that make the performance possible. It's the theatre itself. It's the props. It's the wardrobe. It's the stage crew. It's the writer slaving away at a keyboard pounding out The Next Big Play (who is he kidding?).

It's the cameras and all of the lighting and grip equipment. It's the people working the sound and light boards during the performance. It's the ticket-taker in the ticket booth and the ushers waiting in the lobby for the doors to open and the people cleaning up after the show. It's the billboard hawking the current show or The Next Big Play (maybe this *is* The One). It's the venue where the performance happens. The roadies setting up or taking down the stage as they travel from city to city touring with the band are also a part of the Performing Arts. It's the diesel truck caravan that moves everything from city to city. It's the band's tour bus. It's all of the people shooting a movie on the next street.

For venues think your city park, a small town theatre or big stuff like The Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a TV or radio studio, concert halls. Sports fields like baseball stadiums, football (round and not-so-round) stadiums, tennis courts, golf courses, gymnasiums, ice skating rinks. How about ancient sites like Stonehenge, the temples on top of Mayan pyramids, the Coliseum in Rome, the Hellenic theatre at Epidaurus, Tiananmen Square, the town square in an old European city (OK, they're not ancient just old).

Keep in mind what the Bard of Avon said:
"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts."

This will be the first WWP event where the focus is on people instead of places or things.
Go for it!

Pat Swovelin
World Wide Panorama Event Coordinator
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