I remember when I was offered to play the role of The Princess in a dance-drama of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost on Martha’s Vineyard one summer when I had just finished grad school. As a dancer-turned actor who relished the creation of eclectic performance art, I was drawn to this piece for many reasons, mainly because I was going to get to dance a pas de deux with Rosaline in a corset and hoop skirt (who in their right mind would pass that up?).
But there was something about the production that wasn’t sitting well with me: the producer was planning to sell the show without noting to the public it was a dance drama. So when people came to see it they would be shocked to find there was no dialogue, only dance! Everyone involved, including the brilliant choreographer and director, was trying to justify the reasoning behind this, even though they didn’t agree with this approach at all. The producer was clear that she would not fund the show if it was done any other way.
I really wanted to take the role- it was a dream opportunity for me! I could hide, I thought, behind the corset and hoop skirt, ignore the producer’s issues like everyone else and spend a summer on Martha’s Vineyard working with some of the most talented artists I had met to date. But I was distressed by the fact that I didn’t believe in the producer’s choice and I knew I wouldn’t have been able to bring my a-game because of that.
As I was contemplating my decision, I read this quote I had on my desk by Mikhail Baryshnikov, about his mission for White Oak Dance Company, which he created with Mark Morris: “To be a driving force in the production of art.” One glance at that quote helped finalize my decision once and for all. I wanted to be a driving force in the production of art, but this show was not lining up with my core values that I needed to live by in order to maintain my desired level of integrity. So I didn’t do it.
Looking back, it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my artistic career. The most reputable businesses never hide what they have to offer from the front or back end, as everything they do reflects a core set of values they have built the company on, and they will defend these values to the end. The most reputable artists do exactly the same.
The silver lining came almost 10 years later, when I was cast in the role of The Princess in Love’s Labour’s Lost again, and found my chance to play the role with full dialogue. Although there was very little dance in the production and I didn’t get to wear the corset and hoop skirt, the production was stunning, and it lined up with my core values as an artist. It was magic.
I believe artists are hardwired to run the best businesses in the world. Help me prove my belief by taking action and sharing a story about a time when you held true to your values in order to protect your art in the comments below. Or, share a visual on Instagram using #artistsinbusiness and tag me: @alexisfedorpics!
Your perspective is wildly valuable, as no one has a vision as unique as yours. By sharing your comments and images you are helping other artists in ways you could never dream of! Because of that, when you share, you earn the chance to win a FREE coaching session with me!
Want to know how to take your business with your art to the next level of profitability with ease? Sign up for the FREE 14 Day Art Biz Challenge right here!