Thursday, August 2, 2012

Show vs. Skill

Would you rather put on a show or put out your skill?

This question came to me at the after-party at Shastayama this past weekend.  One of the tech crew (the guy making it all happen) shook my hand and said "there's a fine line between showmanship and taiko."  He was giving me a compliment on my solo in the last piece (where everyone was on stage), but it got me a-thinking.

My solo was definitely on the "show" side of taiko.  I went for big repetitive motions and ki, really "selling it".  Hell, I even dropped my bachi by accident and turned the recovering catch into part of the solo!  The SJT member who followed me did more the "skill" side of taiko, playing more melodic patterns and staying solid throughout.

Don't get me wrong, there was "skill" in my "show" and there was "show" in her "skill" for sure.  And it's quite possible to have both in a solo, regardless of the song you're playing.  On the flip side, too much show without skill is empty, while too much skill without show is boring.

So back to my original question, are you more inclined to put on a show or put out your skill?  Both are certainly valid options - I've seen people play the simplest patterns and sell them masterfully, as well as super complex/extremely fast patterns that drew you in without trying.

The problem is when you're stuck only being able to do one of the two.  For some, it could very well be a lack of experience, but for others it can be a challenge that they either can't or won't overcome.

If you're more comfortable being a spectacle (in a good way), what happens when you dial it back a bit and have to show technique instead of flash?  Can you deliver?  If you make your ki more about intention and focus, will your solo suffer?  Does it mean you're just not comfortable doing that sort of solo, or are you lacking in those basic skills?

If you're more about clean technique and being solid, what happens when you push your ki outwards past your own personal sphere?  What happens when you take risk, putting yourself out there and taking the audience with you for the ride?  What happens when you push past your comfort zone?  Can you?

What you do is often just as important as what you don't do.  It's not easy to face deficiencies and weak spots, but working on them can help you grow a lot faster than focusing on your strengths.

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