Arts Without the Audience

Written by: Inez

Edited by: Chris

Visual by: Summer

The energy, the passion, and the dancing. The moshpit, the theatre, and the stage. Our return to hybrid undoubtedly comes with the excitement of events that almost define the ISM High School experience. With Battle of the Bands (BOB) last weekend and IASAS Cultural Convention just around the corner, participating students have been working hard to prepare top notch performances showcasing their talent. These students will get dressed and mount the stage in a few weeks to face… an empty fine arts theatre, their phone camera, or a zoom audience of profile pictures. As difficult as it is to swallow, the reality of online performances is a fact of the pandemic that we are bound to get used to. Unfortunately for our debaters, musicians, and dancers, performances now may be more difficult than ever without the support of a crowd, and the smiling faces of your friends and family watching you. It is fair to say that a crowd plays a large role in a performance. After all – who else would provide an echo to a Battle of the Bands vocalist singing a song everyone knows? Who else would provide the cheers preceding a performance, giving that performer an extra dose of confidence? An audience makes quite a difference, so what have our performers been doing to navigate this challenge?

Evidently due to the restrictions of the pandemic, most performances have been limited to solo or prerecorded performances. Since 2020, Battle of the Bands has been a pre-recorded and edited YouTube livestream, accessible through the custom ISM BOB website. While other events such as the IASAS cultural convention have completely involved online interactions. 

Sophomore dancer Nina says, “It’s definitely different to the dance performances I grew up doing, but it’s allowed me to be more open-minded in my dance and confident in exploring my movement without self consciousness.” While the lack of an audience has transformed the performing experience once familiar to us, it has become an opportunity for performers to truly express themselves without the consciousness of hundreds of eyes watching you. This fuels the creative energy that makes passionate events of dancing and speaking more meaningful to both the audience and the performing community. 

Michelle, an IASAS music delegate has embraced the challenge of unconventional performance, “It’s allowed us to perform through pre-recorded performance, which really lets me exhibit a performance that is to the best of my abilities.” As a violinist, the control of an environment while filming prevents distractions and allows her to focus on the arts itself. 

Thus, while this era of the arts without the audience poses an obstacle to performing, it has become a period of growth and development for ISM students. As much as both audience members and performers miss the energy of proper productions, may we all hope for the best for what’s in store for future performances.