Kyle Abraham's "Pavement" addresses racism. Photo by Carrie Schneider.

Why Being An Artist Matters Today

Whatever your thoughts about the outcome of yesterday's presidential election, there's one thing everyone reading this has in common: We're dance artists. Which means we have a voice. We have a way to express ourselves that many others do not. Even if you don't know what to make of your feelings today, you have the ability to channel them into your work.

Dance has a long history of responding to political and social issues in the most brilliant, heart-wrenching ways, from Charles Weidman's depiction of mob fervor in Lynchtown to Liz Lerman's Healing Wars about soldier's trauma to Pat Graney's feminist Girl Gods to even Hamilton, and so many, many others. (Spoiler alert: Keep your eyes peeled for much more about this idea in our December issue.)

Pat Graney's "Girl Gods" is about female rage. Photo by Jenny May Peterson.

One of the greatest things about dance is how it reminds us that there is no one right way to be human. There's no single path to take to thrive. Just look at the amazing diversity of work today on stages large and small to see how so many different ideas can exist side by side.

Lemon Sponge Cake Contemporary Ballet recently tackled gun violence in "White Fields." Photo by Paul Aiken.

So make something beautiful—whatever that means to you. Make something that opens minds and hearts. Use your body to say the things that can't be spoken in words. Harness the power of dance to shine a spotlight on the wrongs you see in this country, and choreograph a vision of how we can do better. Or simply let dance be an escape. Let it bring people together—we could all use a little more of that right now.

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Studio shots by Alinne Volpato

Jovani Furlan's Open-Hearted Dancing—And Personality—Lights Up New York City Ballet

Something magical happens when Jovani Furlan smiles at another dancer onstage. Whether it's a warm acknowledgment between sections of Jerome Robbins' Dances at a Gathering or an infectious grin delivered in the midst of a puzzle box of a sequence in Justin Peck's Everywhere We Go, whoever is on the receiving end brightens.

"I could stare at him forever," says New York City Ballet principal Megan Fairchild. "He's just that kind of open spirit. He's not judging anything. It's like he's looking at you with his arms wide open and a big smile—even if he's not smiling, that's the energy he's giving you."