Movement is an art that disappears the moment it’s created – an art form that exists not as an object, but as an action. It is an ephemeral art that once completed, exists only in memory. As humans, we have an intimate connection to movement. In a way, ballet is one of the most refined forms of movement – controlling the body in ways that take extraordinary strength and discipline while also finding beauty in natural line and anatomy.
Most forms of physical art – paintings, drawings, sculpture, etc. – are created and preserved for posterity's enjoyment. The artist channels so much effort, so much skill, so much of themselves into their art that they, rightfully so, wish to preserve it for continuous reflection. They wish to leave a mark. And yet, the preservable nature of the medium, while allowing more people to enjoy it, invites the viewer to regard it with little more than casual observance. Assured that this physical art will continue to exist in its preserved state, the audience finds other pieces to see, other problems to think about. And so the audience can be robbed of their beholding, merely because the artist succeeded too well in preserving it for their enjoyment.
The interesting part about ballet is that one has to see the art as it’s taking place. If the audience allows themselves to miss a performance, they miss the art entirely. By assuring the audience that this moment is the only one they will ever have to observe the beauty before them, the dancers focus their audience on the art at hand. They use the ephemeral nature of movement to add uniqueness and individuality to what could not possibly be kept in a museum, safe behind a velvet rope.
Ballet has evolved over time from a method of aristocratic entertainment to an expression of the common human experience, but has always maintained its ephemerality as a method of focusing the audience – of assuring them that they are witness to a unique expression of the dancer that will never be repeated. Both in the sense that one could not write down the dancer's message to state it themselves, and in the sense that the dancer could not repeat the same performance exactly, even if they tried.
This human connection to movement can be used as a tool in marketing to bring modernity and interest to an art form with dropping ticket sales and lowering community involvement. A study done by the National Endowment for the Arts, comparing ballet marketing and consumption from 2002 to 2012, found that current marketing strategies are only appealing to people who already support the medium. The number of tickets purchased by each audience members has remained constant, while the number of people purchasing tickets has dropped. This means the current marketing strategies are effective for a small group of people – the people who already come to the ballet, and more than likely do not need an advertisement to alert them of an upcoming performance. The solution will be in finding new customers in places we hadn’t yet thought to look.
By bringing tangibility to an ephemeral expression – Ballet can make the transformation into our lives today with a “back to basics” approach to our human connection to movement. For many, ballet represents an outdated memory of a repressive and strict society. But to those within ballet, it has always represented the idea of human transformation and our intimate connection to movement. Its combination of established social rules and immense human potential is what has given this art form such a voice. From a marketing perspective – the focus needs to be placed on the idea of believing in something rather than sold a product. It is through this sense that ballet needs to be “sold”. Not by advertising a single ticket, but by giving people a new reason to believe in ballet, and in the power and emotion of human movement.
There exists an inherent difficulty in marketing a medium that fundamentally emphasizes present beholding. Purposeful design, being both important and effective, is best when it arises from the subject. In order to do this, one must take representation and make it more intimate.
In graphics – by having dancers dip their feet in ink and capturing the visual representation of their movement, they can leave their mark. In photography – by capturing the very feeling and emotion of the present moment, they can show their soul. To design for something – you must design from it.
The artists themselves – these dancers that devote their lives and their bodies to the art of movement – have a voice that begs to be heard. A voice not given life in their throats, but by their bodies. What each dancer feels, the reason they move, or the way they move, is entirely unique to that artist.
The Stage is their Canvas.
© 2018 Amanda Pappas. All Rights Reserved. If sharing on any form of social media, please credit accordingly in original description/comment.