Last night, I watched “Cirque du Soleil, Worlds Apart,” a gorgeous film by James Cameron, in which scenes from the various Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas are blended together in a sparse narrative, culminating in the most entrancing last thirty minutes. It was a feast for the eyes, and yet, was also a challenge to me.
Watching this, and seeing not only the performances, but trying to understand who created the images and choreography, and how they came up with the ideas…well, it all made my life seem so passionless, so hum-drum, so run-of-the-mill. Who thinks of these things? And what is it about them that makes them think outside the box (or inside the cube, as in one scene)?
Even as I watched, I was battling with myself, chastising myself for feeling lesser-than, and challenging myself to reach for more. And then it struck me anew. That’s why it is so important for writers (and other artists) to immerse themselves in “the other.” Crime writers must read more than just crime novels. Watercolor artists must expose themselves to more than watercolors. Rock musicians must listen to more than rock music. Because, it is through exposure to other works of art that our own art can grow, expand, and continue to enchant.
I’m sure that the artistry of Cirque du Soleil has inspired millions of artists around the world: whether physical artists, musicians, dancers, choreographers, writers, painters, what have you. They are so innovative, distorting senses and space and dimensions…challenging the viewer to reach beyond the normal and embrace the new, the unexpected, the sideways.
I believe that it is only by challenging our daily view of life that we can grow: as humans and as artists.
When I was in grad school, and under the influence of something other than mere life, I wrote:
I think everyone in the world is exactly like I am,
And those who are different are just warped versions of the universal type,
Which is me.
Wow, I thought that was deep! What I know today is that we are indeed universal types, but ah, the differences! That is where the vision lies! It is this difference, each person’s unique way of seeing the world, of experiencing the everyday…this is what makes art!
That said, I am still simply amazed by the vision of the choreography and the artistry of the productions of Cirque du Soleil. It is, indeed, worlds apart.