Sunday, September 6, 2009

Connection & Reflection: Inspired by Culture Shock LA's iConnect Show

Last Friday night, Culture Shock LA's 2009-2010 team performed a second rendition of their annual benefit show "iConnect" at the Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood. Great venue, energetic and entertaining show.

And a topical theme for our times. In a fast-paced technological world, is it harder for us to truly connect with other people? When was the last time we had a meaningful face-to-face conversation with another person? And when have we made time to process all the information and experiences that we encounter daily?

Culture Shock's show hit on some of these themes, especially the need for us to stay connected in meaningful ways to our family, friends, and loved ones. It is a human need to be connected. But it also takes a lot of ourselves to invest in relationships. Social networking technology may make it easier to be casually "in the know" of a friend's life, but it doesn't replace a face-to-face meeting or a phone call.

Are we losing the art of conversation? Some of the deepest joys in life come from conversations that transform and challenge us. They could be with teachers, colleagues, family members, or even acquaintances. There's something rhythmic and probing about in-person conversation that can't be replaced by IMs, text messages, or status updates.

So if we need to nurture our connections to others, what about reflection? The Internet, social networking, and mobile technology have brought the digital world to our fingertips. We're bombarded by so many images, signals, ideas, and parcels of information. It can be overwhelming. Where do we start? When do we end? If we kept consuming this avalanche of info without taking time to process, we'd be drowning in digital noise. Sometimes, unplugging is the best medicine. Walking away from that computer. Putting down the handheld device for another time. Taking a hike instead of checking Facebook status updates.

As humans, we need to reflect. We need time to search for and assign meaning to our experiences. That's how we deal with our memories. Events don't simply just happen to us as much as we perceive those events with our own lens. We give these events purpose and understanding, which adds to our ongoing narrative in our lives.

For an artist, reflection is key. It brings rest and refreshment to creative impulses that come from our daily existence. With reflection, we interpret, we decipher, we justify. For dancers, it's crucial because our art is based in emotion and connection with music. How we connect with musical rhythms can be affected by our mental and emotional well-being. When we reflect, we heal and persevere. We are molding the material which we'll later tell in our stories.

Actually, reflection sounds like a good thing to do right now. 'Til next time.

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