Creation Over Competition

Creation Over Competition

This article refers to artistic aerial performances. I understand that some performance contexts are not about art but more entertainment, which is fine but those are not the topic of this post.

Competition can be a powerful motivator. However, it can also generate tensions and interfere with a mindset that promotes creative ideas. While I don’t advocate for the eradication of competition, I do emphasize a non-competitive attitude in aerial arts. I believe the benefits are camaraderie and creative power. 

Creativity in aerial arts is not fundamentally different from creativity in other genres. Creative ideas arise when we are able to organize and articulate responses to the richness of life. At the core of creative work is emotional experience, with “negative” or difficult emotions proving particularly productive. Anything that moves us to laughter or tears can become artistic material.

The beauty of creative action is that it does not lend itself to competition. If I create an act, I never have to worry that somebody else is going to create the same one. Therefore I don’t feel pressured; instead, I get to feel excited about what others are creating, and celebrate the similarities and differences. The absence of tension helps me think more freely.

“Genuine art–dharma art–is simply the activity of nonaggression.”
-Choegyam Trungpa

If the creator is moved by the materials inspiring the act–emotions, imagery, experiences–then their creation is going to carry meaning. If the creator is moved by a compulsion to do better than someone else or to prove their greatness, their creation will not carry the same significance or depth.

My two strong opinions regarding aerial performance:
1)An aerial performer should not ask others for song ideas. She should think about what music has really impacted her.
2) An aerial artist should not pick a song that is overdone (Chandelier, Feeling Good). There are so many songs in the world–bring something new to life. 

Surely there are exceptions, but commonly, if an artist becomes mired in comparison games, she and her art are likely to suffer. My sister attends an art school and lamented the high anxiety that came with everybody comparing their work and competing for the highest praise and marks.  (It’s hard to see this when you’re in it.) Engaging in her art outside of school proved to be more pleasurable, meaningful, and satisfying.

“At the centre of positive creative activity is the desire to bring health and enrichment into the lives of others. To create change mindlessly invites the risk of the kind of destructiveness which could reverberate far into the future. In Native philosophy, creative activity is a deep spiritual responsibility requiring as full an awareness as possible of its sacred nature and the necessity for pure love to be at its centre.”
-Jeanette Armstrong

Art can reflect your experience of any area of life. It can give form to that which you have internalized or find difficult to express. Meaningful art provides the viewer with an experience that is both novel and familiar. It is unique yet relatable. 

If you have a stage available to you, realize that you can express anything there. If you have people listening and watching, consider what is of value for them to absorb. Art that moves someone besides yourself is worth creating.