Ballet Memphis wants to spark a conversation about how a multimedia lifestyle is changing how dance and other performing arts are made and consumed. To facilitate this, the ballet company is bringing in Opera Memphis' general director and new-media whiz kid, Ned Canty, for "Spark: YouTube Arts Festival."
Canty thinks we can all stand to learn a thing or two from a widely circulated FunnyorDie.com video that samples scenes from the 1983 Pirates of Penzance film but replaces the audio with a version of Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back," sung in the style of Gilbert & Sullivan.
Canty knows it won't be everybody's idea of what opera and dance should look like in the future. "But I'm fascinated with participatory creation and mashup culture," he says. "And, of course, 25 years ago, this is maybe something that might have happened in a college sketch show or something, but nobody else would have ever seen it."
Canty hopes to address a range of ideas — from young dancers having immediate access to great historical performances to the phenomenon of people dancing the Harlem Shake.
"We live in interesting times," he says. "Disruptive technology is changing the nature of the art so fast people can't foresee where it's going. There's the usual conversation about what it's doing to business models, but I find it's more interesting to ask, 'What is it doing to the art form?'"
Ballet Memphis' "Spark: YouTube Arts Festival" at Crosstown Arts, Wednesday, September 11th, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Free.