In Honor of a Performing Artist

I’ve named my blog “Balancing Act,” in honor of a one-woman mime act created by Lelia Pendleton of Bankshot Theater in Richmond, VA.  Lil is a performer of “a certain age” who still pursues her niche of the performing arts spectrum.  She pursues it with dedication, honesty & craft; she continually studies to improve her instrument; she still gives her heart to every new show.  Lelia stands up in front of humanity and exposes our dreams and fears; our pain, our hope, our love.    She, as performers have done for hundreds of thousands of years, distills the essence of humanity through her senses, her body and her emotions; and she then gives that essence of humanity back to us, the audience.  Perhaps she offers us a better understanding of our humanity.

Yet Lelia cannot make a living at her art.  She has a day job working with at-risk youth.  A low-paid, frustrating job where she can never make as much difference as she wants to make.  I have seen videos of several of Lelia’s shows, but I have never seen Balancing Act.  In my imagination this  piece is about the juggling act she must do—we all must do—to stay alive, do good things in the world, to buy groceries and to carry out our calling.   The privileged few who make a living “doing art” are the minority: the one dancer out of thousands who was chosen to be paid a salary at the New York City Ballet, the Hollywood movie star, the rock god.  Most of the rest of us must do a balancing act to have both a life of work and a life of meaningfulness.  For, if we abandon either, we will die.  Physical death or soul death.

In my blog, Balancing Act, I will salute the strength of artists forced to live in the “real world” and I will discuss the trade-offs many of us make in pursuit of life, art, entertainment and business.

My name is Michelle Shyman.  I’m pleased to meet you, my audience.


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