I’ve named my blog â€œBalancing Act,â€ in honor of a one-woman mime act created by Lelia Pendleton of Bankshot Theater in Richmond, VA. Lil is a performer of â€œa certain ageâ€ 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 doâ€”we all must doâ€”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 â€œdoing artâ€ 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 â€œreal worldâ€ 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.