Here is a blog about Pat Potter's experiences!
Picture this - It's 6am on a cool March morning, no one else is up yet. The house is quiet except for the hum of the furnace. The sun has yet to show it's early light as she turns on the lamp to the den where her big mirror sits, propped against the wall waiting for her like an old friend. She dons her ballet shoes and begins the morning's practice, holding onto the back of a chair as if it were her own personal ballet barrre. Slow tendus are her subject this morning, as controlled and perfect as she can, toes pointed, slowly moving her delicately bowed foot to the side in a precise, predetermined route... each time a little better than the last.
As she watches herself in the mirror, she doesn't see an eleven year old girl practicing one of the most basic of ballet movements. In her mind's eye, she's on stage in front of thousands of people performing her favorite ballet, The Nutcracker. Her head is filled with the cacophony of sounds coming from the orchestra pit. The lights are warm and bright as the other dancers move around her seemingly effortless. She floats across the dance floor and off into the stage wings and has to quickly change into another costume before going back onto the stage. She is alive in a way only she can feel... she is dreaming of her future.
This scene plays out every morning in many homes, including my own. My daughter's chosen art, dance, has impacted her life positively in so many ways. She's learning discipline, time management skills and how to be a part of something larger than herself. She's learning how to deal with success and failure in a positive and healthy way. She's learning how to be a strong, confident young woman who values her body and her mind and realizes that she has something unique to give back to society. She may graduate from her dance school and never step foot on another stage but the lessons she learned there will stay with her throughout life, indeed enhancing her life in a way that is both valuable and quantifiable.
I realize I'm partial to my own child's artistic journey and art form but, this can be said for any art that one participates in wholly regardless of age. The ability to pull from oneself that which is our essence, our passion is the true function of art, a function from which our society benefits. We are the sum of our experiences and when an art form is part of that experience subset, we are made better by it.
I can wax philosophic about this topic for hours but most of us who work in the arts can attest to the fact that those who participate in artistic endeavors report that it positively affects many other aspects of their lives. There are a multitude of studies which support this sentiment, so why aren't the arts garnering more support? There are many reasons, but I believe the onus falls on us to advocate for change. We are not elitists, rather we are humanists and it's up to us to change the stigma and educate society of the importance of art in our lives.