Up for Interpretation, not for Competition


IASAS Cultural Convention is an event truly like no other. Since it’s a mesh of all arts – music, drama, dance, and art – there is more than one element to it. It’s not just a performance, it’s not just an extended field trip, and it’s certainly not like the competitive IASAS sports.

It’s more than that, but what if the rules changed and a more competitive nature was introduced? How would it alter CulCon’s meaning? How could it disfigure what CulCon stands for? Five exceptional artists from the five IASAS schools provide us with insider insight on this topic, mainly from the point of view of dancers.

“I think that dance is firstly an art, before it is a sport…When dance is real dance, it should have a purpose and [it] should have a meaning.” – Emmy ‘17 (ISB)

There are many reasons why competitiveness in IASAS Cultural Convention would not work. In the wise words of Mandy ‘18 (ISM), inserting a level of competition and comparing dances to one another “is like comparing an apple to an orange.” It simply wouldn’t make sense, especially since art is subjective.

“Some pieces might hit other people harder than others, depending on if it relates to them or not…It’s not as straightforward as [it is] in sports, where if you’re better, if you have a higher score, then you win. Here it’s more like appreciating each person’s ideas.”

Besides, you cannot really ‘rank’ or give points to art. Caitlin ‘18 (JIS) comments, “you have all these different interpretations of it, and one is not necessarily better than the other.

Say if a performance is more technical but it touches you less, how would you compare that to a performance that’s really sloppy, but that touches you more?

Liam ‘17 (TAS) also notes that, “sometimes you watch amazing competition dances, their technique is flawless…but there’s no emotion, there’s no backstory to it.” Without emotion and such, the dance is just movement with music. It cannot be considered true art. “Art is a form of conveying emotions and expressions, and in order to successfully do that, you don’t  need technique.

You just need to have the ability to let your audience gain something from your performance.

Similarly, Kaylene ‘19 (ISKL) expresses that “it’s more about the artistry in comparison to the technique,” and it’s near impossible to grade artistry. “A lot of the time it’s about conveying a message or making your audience feel something, or giving your audience something to interpret.”

Kaylene also points out that, “if we did a competition in CulCon, you only get to perform once. You only get that one shot,” and that would be far too much pressure for just 20 minutes of your life.

Likewise, another reason creating a competitive aspect in CulCon is not such a great idea, because it may take away the integrity of the art they perform.

Emmy ‘17 (ISB) sensibly comments that, “bringing a ranking system would take away from that [art], because it would just be incentive to people doing as many tricks as possible, and perhaps not make a piece as meaningful.”

Caitlin also agrees with this, noting that “there would be a lot more focus on making things look cool instead of trying to touch the audience.”

“You [might] just do it for the medal instead of for yourself or for the audience,” Mandy points out. “The ideas might not be as heartfelt. it might just be for the gold, rather than what you feel, or what you believe in.”

To sum it up in Caitlin’s words, “the arts are something that can’t be quantified.”

Right now Kaylene, and many others, like the cultural convention as it is. “When we come together, it’s more about sharing our passion for the arts, sharing our love for drama, dance, art, and music.” She believes that without the competitive side to it, we are all able to enjoy and admire each other’s art more.

Liam believes that the whole purpose of CulCon is, “the sharing of creativity, of talent, to see where people are coming from, to see what people have come up with, how they choose to express their emotions. It’s a fun event for everybody to come together and to be creative and to be open to anybody’s ideas.”

“As artists, we’re just here to share what we’ve created, and to learn to appreciate and to give out constructive criticism to other people.” – Liam ‘17 (TAS)

Emmy sees CulCon as an opportunity to “experience as much as you can. When you’re stuck in one school and you’re just learning there, you only get one style, or one aesthetic, but if you see what other schools can do, and their different ideas on an art piece, then it’s amazing to see how much you expand and how much you are inspired by other people.” 

“I think the whole point of cultural convention, is not to rank it,” Mandy states. “It’s art, and you [should] appreciate it.”

Even though it is only Caitlin’s first year, she speaks words of experience when she says that, “because we’re not competing against each other, we’re much more receptive to what other people have to say. Instead of pushing what we want to say and what we want to show, I think we can learn much much more just by thinking that this is something we share, instead of something we’re trying to take away from other people.”