10 years ago the USA had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash ….
Now they have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.
Somebody sent me an email with this comic and the above text. I have not yet been able to track the origin of this email. The compelling message has not left my mind in the days that have passed since I first received it. The tone of this message may capture the current sentiment in the general population of the United States, but commemorating the passing of Steve Jobs can also take on a more playful tone:
Nothing personal against Bill Gates. There would be no Jobs without Gates (right?). However, I do cherish the idea of seeing both of them smile at each other, even as their body language reveals the undertone of a conversation that spanned over many years, with billions of dollars at play.
These two men have been instrumental in shaping the technological environment we live in today. They have transformed it to such a degree that we can now take screens with us wherever we go (with mobile videoconferencing now available to all) and we can store all our documents and share them on a cloud.
Thanks to programs such as the Broadband Initiative and the $100 computer, the world wide web is now available to a majority of the world. Though it is not a perfect world, and not a perfect world wide web, these two men have developed the hardware and the collaborations that has made social media and the web blossom beyond our imagination, making and creating governments, saving and destroying lives. We make “friends” now, things go “viral” and researchers know that “crowdsourcing” works. Ah yes, now I have a new word to “add” to my dictionary until “they” upgrade it.
First Lady Michelle Obama “destroys” twitter and an amateur video is linked to a deadly assault to the U.S. Embassy in Libya. In the wake of the Arab Spring and in the shadow of 9/11, the Bush Era and an economic Depression, I live in a world of uncertainty where Obama tries to create a health care program for all and he is challenged regularly by Congress, where teachers are being fired because of an under-funded law forcing schools to teach to the test instead of teach to learn, where the question of what tomorrow will bring is met with uncertainty.
I have found that facing this uncertainty, knowing that things will continue to change, has me reflecting upon the ideas of groundlessness and impermanence. Did anyone think Steve Jobs would always be around to come up with the next best thing? That is why great people surround themselves with a great team of people that helps build something significant. A team that is committed to sticking around after they are gone. I am faced with the situation of my own impermanence, and the impermanence of those above me, whose legacy I carry into the future.
In the end you might ask, if you have been following my blog, what does this have to do with dance anyway? My answer is Everything. I think of some of the places where I teach dance, where the modern dance ideas of Humphrey/Limon, Graham and Horton are still the foundation of modern dance technique. It might be the local thing here, and a good history lesson, but in the rest of the world, those techniques are old news. The world of “contemporary” dance now takes after many influences, mixtures, blends of techniques beginning with masters such as George Balanchine, William Forsythe, Wayne McGregor, Pina Bauch and Anna Teresa de Keersmaeker among others.
This video of Wayne McGregor giving a talk and a demonstration of his process for TED shows just how different modern dance and ballet are from the mid-20th Century. Though McGregor is sometimes a controversial figure, both because of his ideas and his methods, he has the strength of character to withstand these challenges and continue to grow. He is open about his process and he wants to talk about it, generating a legacy of his own, and surrounding himself with people who may proliferate his work. Here’s the video:
So Steve, if you are up there on one of them iClouds, maybe you can give me a hand with downloading the next upgrade in contemporary dance, with a tweet and some outreach, a great team, proliferation, distribution, and a generous dose of uncertainty. You never know what gates I may find before me.