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6rant6's avatar

Objectively, how do you think the quality of performance of peforming artists compares to historic levels?

Asked by 6rant6 (13629 points ) February 10th, 2012

I’m guessing that at the turn of the 20th century that more people were spending more time in performance related activities than any other time – certainly in US history.

Today, people spend more time in passive pursuits and gaming. And people often are able to become celebrities without going through training. I’m not saying that such performers can’t have great heart, and a great stage crew, but they don’t have the craft of someone who has studied theater, music or dance.

I suspect a precocious child who in previous times might have found a career in dance will be more likely to be directed toward sports.

On the other hand, every performer gets to see and learn from every great performer, albeit not necessarily in person. Great natural performers are probably more likely to get their chance due to the invention of the video audition. They get to go where training is the best. And actors certainly get to see more performances on television than would have been possible for someone a century ago.

Anyway, what do you think, are the performers of today better than those of history, or do you have another era where you think performers probably shone brightest?

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11 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Can one be objective about the performing arts?

If people today spend less time studying theater, music, or dance, it has to do with the rise of television. At the turn of the 20th century, people turned to the performing arts for entertainment, which was replaced by TV.

Still, I believe we have performers today who can rival the greats of past eras. Judging by his Broadway performances, I believe Hugh Jackman would be one. He acts, sings, and dances. Kenneth Branagh is another that I believe could stand alongside the greats like John Barrymore. Meryl Streep’s acting abilities, I believe, place her on the same level as Katherine Hepburn.

I am very active in community theater and act, direct, and produce at every opportunity. I’m currently in rehearsals for Equus. I attend as much theater as I can in the small town I live in. We’re lucky to have a university that draws some pretty good talent.

My own experience has been learning theater arts by doing it. Every actor I’ve worked with, every director, too, has taught me something. I’ve learned a little bit from TV, more from movies, and a lot by attending theater.

Are we better off for having new media the Internet affords us? Absolutely yes. I’ve been able to study other performances and garner techniques to help me in my roles. I have millions of examples at my fingertips. It has made me a better actor.

Coloma's avatar

I think every person has a calling, and all forms of art are glorious manifestations of the human spirit. As a writer I do feel a tragic sense of loss of the old school art of letter writing and appreciation of poetic verse. But, right now I am listening to the Goo Goo Dolls tunes of the 90’s. The 90’s music genre has been the biggest renaissance of amazing music since the 60’s & 70’s IMO.

The human sprirt will ALWAYS prevail in artistic expression.

john65pennington's avatar

Most of today performers are off-shoots of their parents or a family member.

Michael Jackson is a good example. He had musical talent as a child and as an adult. It was most likely in his genes to be a singer and entertainer.

bkcunningham's avatar

Good question that requires some thought. Did performers have to be better and/or better trained when performing before live audiences before the days of studio controlled sound and so many synthesized recordings for musicians? I would think so. Bands didn’t get so many do overs in the day, did they?

I still struggle with modern computer generated animation over the old-fashioned hand drawn frames. To me, that was real art. I appreciate the computer art, but it isn’t the same to me. The same with digital cameras. I like the days of dark rooms and real painting with light that was a true art.

Love the question and look forward to seeing others’ thoughts.

mattbrowne's avatar

Choirs are much better on average than in the past.

6rant6's avatar

@mattbrowne I’m not sure what “average” means here. Aren’t there a lot fewer choirs?

My linage is significantly Welsh. I don’t think you can assert that today’s choirs are superior to Welsh choirs of a century ago, can you? The Welsh haven’t left many marks in the world, but by god, they can sing.

6rant6's avatar

@bkcunningham The advent of live pitch correction certainly has relieved a lot of today’s singers from actually singing well. So even in live venues, the technical demands put on singers aren’t so heavy. But I’m guessing the acceptance of so-so singers is not what it used to be, either, with people having experienced so many great performances via recordings.

fundevogel's avatar

@bkcunningham I’ve done both hand drawn animation and computer. Believe me, you can do more complicated things with a computer, but it doesn’t make it easier. With hand drawn you just draw a frame. How long that takes depends on the complexity of your animation. With the computer I have to model, layout my UVs, texture, sort out my rendering techniques, and rig in addition to animation. Much of it before I can even start animating.

That said I know what you mean about the aesthetic of traditional animation techniques. They can be so beautiful. I’ve been working on how to create a more imperfect and expressive look for my own animation. I’m making progress. I’m not the only one.

bkcunningham's avatar

Cook animated all the character work in the computer, printed out every frame of the 3-D animation, drew over the top and then scanned it back into the computer and layed it back over the the 3-D animation @fundevogel. I wondered what gave it that scratchy, gritty, rough look that fits so well with the story. Very nice. Thank you for sharing. I didn’t realize there was so much technique in computer generation.

mattbrowne's avatar

@6rant6 – There are more choirs today than in the past. The education of choir conductors on a large scale has improved significantly. In the past only the best of the best choirs were really good. Only few people knew how to teach people how to sing well.

fundevogel's avatar

@fundevogel Yep, but you can’t right off the computer work, that’s where all the actual animation was done. So is this a computer animation or is it traditional? Both and neither. The more creative the endeavor the harder to label.

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