I’ve been thinking a lot about cooperation lately. I’m not sure why. Maybe I’ve been watching the lack of cooperation in Congress and am hoping for better.

Whatever the roots, my thoughts tend toward the performing arts. Artists are known for their egos and their temperaments, but what they should be known for instead is their cooperative attitude, especially those in the performing arts. Yes, there are those whose egos become impediments to cooperation, but most performers I’ve known exemplify a cooperative spirit.

No theater production, no dance piece, no musical concert will ever arrive on a stage without the cooperative effort of a whole lot of people. The more the people involved cooperate with one another, the easier the project can be for everyone. No matter how difficult the artistic process to mount that show, the production process can be made a whole lot easier if everyone just works together.

Pilobolus, which arrives in Albuquerque this Saturday, offers an extreme example of cooperation. The company members create their dances together from the ground up. The choreographer may have a few basic ideas that kick the whole process off, but ultimately everyone in the company has input in the process.

I’ve seen a number of theatrical shows in the past few months that also exemplify a cooperative process. The shows I’ve seen tend to be ensemble pieces where everyone’s contribution is important and no one person can claim to be the star. I find I enjoy these pieces more than star vehicles.

I also saw the movie The Good Shepherd recently. Whatever else you can say about that movie, the actors truly seemed to sublimate themselves to the work. While there were several name stars in the movie, their work was not an effort to feed their own egos.

A few years ago, I heard an actress tell a group of playwrights that if a playwright develops a solid ego for each character, she would gladly sublimate her own ego in service to that of the character’s, to the greater good of the project. Wouldn’t our lives be a lot better if more of us did that?

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Tags: cooperation, dance, ego, music, performing arts, theater

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