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Mary Pat checks in from Dallas, TX

February 4, 2012: Dallas, Texas

So, in my spare time in Dallas I slipped into the role of movie buff. There’s a really cool repertory movie house near my hotel. I had seen some of the films already (“The Artist,” and “Tinker, Tailer, Soldier, Spy), but had time to catch not only ”The Descendants,” but also “My Week with Marilyn.” What fun! I feel really ready to appreciate the Academy Awards this year.

What’s interesting to me about this year’s movies is how many of the good ones have been reflections on the history of the movies themselves—“Hugo,” “ The Artist,” and to a lesser extent, “ My Week with Marilyn.” I think that’s a sign of a certain maturity of an art form, to use its own history as the springboard for new creation. I also think it’s indicative of uncertainty in the face of the changing technology-- just like the book store that I had hoped to visit, which had closed since my last trip.

As artists who love to participate in live performances, both as performers and as audience members, we need to reach out to friends to help people continue to appreciate the deep psychological value of coming together as an audience to share the experience of art. Our world moves forward at ever - dizzying rates, but certain aspects of our humanity must be exercised, in order to keep their functions.

I read in this weekend’s NY Times a very interesting essay about how over-reliance on GPS systems is
beginning to weaken the brain’s ability to create three dimensional understanding of the world.

In just such a way, the habit of viewing “art” or “entertainment” as a solitary experience, is essentially different from the coming together of many to participate in a journey. Losing this habit, and replacing it with solitary viewing, will continue to splinter our world and limit our empathy with others. So let’s all enjoy our online fun, but let’s keep the theater habit alive, too!

Texas weather lived up to its reputation of changeability—from a humid 72 when I arrived to a wet 41 and windy when I left. But the warmth of the dancers in the studio more than made up for those chilly breezes! Great to see some friends from last year, and to meet new dancers here. Off to Florida next!

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