A Bright (Digital) Future

by Robert Curran, Louisville Ballet Artistic Director

I consider myself privileged to see these past weeks and months as the most tumultuous I have ever witnessed, on a global scale. The entire world seems to be turned inside out – in some terrible ways, in some frustrating ways, and in some necessary ways. Right now, as we have many times in the past, we need a humble but spectacular commitment to rise from this time in our lives, and move towards a brighter and more loving future.

I am excited about this future. I long for it. I want to be a part of it. I want to live it. I want to be proud of it. In my opinion, art and artists can create this future.

Our artists can dream about it in ways that will inspire us all, and motivate positive action. Our artists can tell us about what this future might be, with words, with music, with dance, with infinite creations. Artists can quite literally be part of its construction. And as this bright future is built artists can fill it with joyful expression and meaningful dialogue. The diversity, and the diverse voices, of our artists can celebrate what vibrant creativity delivers, where opposition and divergence can crash together in a safe place to explode new ideas and new platforms for expression of who we are and why we exist. With every problem and challenge we encounter on our journey, our artists can bring their creativity to bear in ways that no one, and nothing else, can.

This potential bright future gives us a chance to ask ourselves, our artists included: What am I here to achieve? What will be my lasting legacy? How do I make this world a better place for those that will follow me? And, am I truly living up to my potential? On an individual level, and on an institutional level, these questions are paramount. We must consider, and reconsider, our personal and institutional missions to be sure that we are being true to ourselves and that we are serving a bright future. We must also reach out to others to share our missions, and to create shared missions, to multiply our chances of success.

We will always be more successful in teams, as collaborators with multiple perspectives and diverse backgrounds, than we ever would in isolation. And our adventure will be so much more fulfilling and joyful.

However, I often feel that the seemingly endless energy and enthusiasm of my youth is slipping away from me. With each challenge, with each disappointment, with each sacrifice, I feel as though I have less to offer. But right now, in this moment, I am asking myself to consider versatility and adaptability. We can always count on the fact that today is different from yesterday, and tomorrow will be different to today. As a dance artist I could always count on the fact that this performance can and will be different from the last one, and will be different from the next one. We have the opportunity to reinvent ourselves, and thank goodness we do. This bright future holds an opportunity for daily reinventions, on every level. Try a different breakfast cereal. Try a different coffee. Try reading a new author. Try listening to a new style of music. Try a new approach to your work. Try reaching out to someone you don’t yet know. Try something that is way outside your comfort zone. I suspect that the energy we might feel we are lacking will quickly return.

This bright future is not a singularly defined utopia. There is no one geographical, emotional, or spiritual location that holds this bright future. It is an existence, a way of life, a continuous series of conversations and collaborations – a steady stream of reinventions and adaptations. It is a humble and open-minded acceptance of uncertainty and change. But we can find peace and joy in this uncertainty and change. If we listen to and hear others, if we open our hearts, if we accept and learn from being uncomfortable, and if we commit to the seeking of answers, as much as the answers themselves.

I am honored to be an artist, and to lead an arts institution. I am privileged to have a platform to express myself, and I have the responsibility of sharing that privilege with others who do not have what I do. In a time where we cannot express ourselves as easily because of a global pandemic, but when self-expression has become an imperative for our racist world,

I am looking for new, effective and exciting ways to move us towards our bright future. Louisville Ballet cannot be on the stage in front of an audience, we cannot ask you to come to us, but we can work with our dance artists and our artistic collaborators to bring our art form to you.

Our 2020 / 2021 Season of Illumination will be a totally virtual season, coming to you wherever you are, and whenever you would like to engage with us. I am excited to create dance art films that will give voice to a diverse collection of artists, and that will tell stories that are beautiful in their honesty and relevance. I am excited to create a platform that will deepen and enrich the experience of these dance art works with expanded commentary for you to read, watch and listen to, before, during and after your experience. And in our ongoing commitment to uncertainty and change, I am excited to watch this platform evolve, even after we gratefully and enthusiastically arrive back onto the physical stages we so enjoy.

The future will be bright, and I am hopeful that our 2020 / 2021 Season of Illumination brings a beautiful and meaningful glow to it.

I invite you to experience this future with us.