For students considering performing arts, Wiley and Bhasin offered some thoughts.
“The only way you can survive in the arts is to know that there is nothing else you can possibly want to do,” said Wiley.
“If you are going to try to be a performer, it is such a tiny, narrow, diminishing world of opportunity, and the way that you have to commit yourself is at the same time magical and terrible,” said Bhasin. “If you can image yourself being happy doing something else, be open to that idea, too.”
Wiley and Bhasin agreed that non-music or non-theater majors can still gain a lot from performing arts classes.
“No matter what field you’re in, you can learn to be open to your creativity and imagination,” said Wiley. “If you can learn to listen to that and trust that in yourself, and also value creativity in others, you can really open up new avenues of thinking and behaving in all different fields.”
Wiley continued, “Every single person has creativity within them, and it comes out in different ways. It comes down to asking yourself: What is within me that studying this form can access, and how can I use that in cooperation with others?”
Bhasin added, “The reason I like the idea of performing arts in a liberal arts university is because you have the potential for all the excellence and all the self-discovery, but the composition of the class is just a small percentage of music majors, others are math, science, etc. All these things that happen with creative preforming arts – the inconvenience, the terror, the excitement, the love, and the romance – it is the only place where all the liberal arts simultaneously crash into each other.
“The emotion is why the students are there, they have fun playing but they quickly realize that this isn’t fun time – there is something deeper and more wonderful and terrifying at the same time,” continues Bhasin. “There is nonverbal connection with people around you. At the center, performing arts offers students permission to fail in a healthy way. It’s a powerful lesson.”