People who perform for a living do it for the glory, right? They just want to be famous.
Darryl Dominguez teaches guitar here and has for the past 25 years. Of course, he also plays guitar, and you can book him for weddings and other occasions. He’s been playing since he was 11. He’s devoted his life to music.
Rick Nickerson with New Mexico Young Actors has been teaching theater to children since 1979. Diane Gutierrez has performed and choreographed with ACLOA and MTS and teaches at Fishback Studio. Henry Avery has been a director and an arts administrator in New York, Louisiana and now here at Albuquerque Little Theatre.
None of these are household names that are likely to live forever, like Frank Sinatra or Laurence Olivier.
Alice Tan Ridley was a New York busker, singing in the subway for dimes and dollars. She might still be singing there if Dvir Assouline hadn’t gone through the Times Square station where she was singing. He loved her voice and decided to bring her career up a notch. He got her an audition on America’s Got Talent where she almost walked away with the top prize. She’s that good.
Now she’s performing on stages around the world. She's performing in Popejoy Hall January 15th with the Cab Calloway Orchestra. Is she doing it for the glory? Maybe, but she also does it because she has to, because she is so driven to perform that she really could not succeed at anything else.
There’s a leap of faith you take to commit to a life in performance. While you may have the yearning to perform, you also need talent and skill. You develop the skills and whatever talent you have to the best of your ability, but the impulse has to be all consuming or you won’t have a reason to begin.
Talent and skill are harder to come by, of course, and sometimes it’s difficult to know if you really do have the talent (the absolute ingredient in this mix, ideally). There’s no magic mirror you can step in front of and get that answer. People evaluating you — sometimes a little too frankly (think Simon Cowell) — serve as your mirror after you've already stepped in front of them and performed.
When people tell you directly that they love your performances, you can start to believe that perhaps you could follow your drive to perform. But you don't always follow a path that leads to stardom. You might teach or direct or administer. Or you might sing in subway stations.
Alice has reached a new level in her career, gotten herself a new job, as she puts it, but she’s still in the same business. She calls it “the joy business,” putting smiles on people’s faces, a spring in people's steps. That’s something I bet Darryl and Rick and Diane and Henry understand. And rather than fame, that may actually be the highest pinnacle in the business of the performing arts.
Terry S. Davis
Lyrics from "Fame" by Dean Pitchford
Photo by Noam Galai