In Western culture today, most people live with a wealth of mind-numbing entertainment options at their fingertips. Though the technological advances of our time are great accomplishments, consumerism markets many of the products of these advances to us by telling us that we have the right to "relax" by turning our minds "off". We can do this by ingesting hours upon hours of material, most often delivered through a digital screen, that requires no thought, analysis or effort of any kind on our part to absorb. But is that kind of "relaxation" actually helpful, or at the very least, restful?
There is a range of thought on this matter, but it seems fair to assert that passive entertainment is at least neutrally unhelpful when it comes to the development of the mind and the imagination. Any normal pursuit of mental development and creativity - such as in academic study, learning to play an instrument, etc. - requires hard work and creative engagement. Many forms of entertainment simply cannot offer the same level of mental challenge and engagement.
Ballet, however, stands out among potential forms of leisure as something that may have more lasting value than its early founders, exploring and developing in classical styles meant to show off the technical ability of the dancer, may have realized! In its modern form, ballet is a form of artistic storytelling and communication that employs many means other than direct, verbal communication to convey a thought or story. In order to partake of the art form, the individual watching must invest a certain degree of concentration and creativity in evaluating the ballet's layers of sounds, shapes, colors and emotions in order to derive meaning. This is not to say that ballet is so complicated that it is impossible to figure out - especially in the case of Ballet 5:8, where we specifically produce works that are based in a clear, accessible idea, thought or story that audience members can chew on afterward. Even so, ballet is not a direct form of communication, and the process of deriving meaning from a ballet could hardly be said to be a passive experience!
So, it is true that ballet could be a form of mindful leisure, rather than mindless entertainment? Is it true that ballet performance can provide those who watch it with a restful, relaxing yet interactive experience that refreshes the mind, soul and imagination? Is it true that you could feel more alive after watching a ballet?
We think so.
Try it for yourself: watch a performance.