Art Stays With You

Last night I attended TED Live in Cinemas – the opening session of TED2016, simulcast to my local movie theatre.

I was inspired, uplifted, encouraged, and challenged by the entire group of presenters: from 10-year-old author Ishita Katyal, to Google X head Astro Teller, from geneticist Ricardo Sabatini (my son’s favorite) to TV Titan Shonda Rhimes to Indian musician A.R. Rahman.

I was perhaps most moved by Dan Pallotta, who spoke powerfully about our need to dream as audaciously in our personal lives as we do in our work lives. He challenged us to audaciously dream for more joy in our lives.

But the presentation that will stay with me the longest is without a doubt the dance of Bill T. Jones. On his sixty-fourth birthday, he gave a live performance, with narration, of his classic solo piece “21”, which he created over 30 years ago. He updated it to include details from as recently as yesterday into a powerful narrative arc.

Isn’t it always the case that the art stays with you longest? Long after my students cannot remember the quadratic equation, they will remember the words and rhythm of Dúlamán. They may not remember what an Ab key signature looks like, but they will be able to recreate the big dance number from “Bye Bye Birdie.” They won’t be able to tell you who won the homecoming game, but they will relive the plot of their favorite novel from American Lit.

It is the art that stays with us.