Letters of Life

Making It Look Easy

“An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way. An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.” — Charles Bukowski (American short-story writer, poet and novelist, 1920-1994)

Which would you rather be, an intellectual or an artist?

I used to think of myself as an intellectual, though not necessarily intelligent. You can be the first without being the second. This was proven in my brief sojourn as a journalist, because often, you could get away with making people believe you knew more than you did just by rephrasing what they said, and by learning to ask questions in such a way that they stopped short of revealing your ignorance of, say, leveraging the debt in an economy, or that Wang Lee Hom coined the term chinked out for the fusion musical style he created.

To be an artist though, is quite a different story, isn’t it? If being an artist means saying or doing difficult things in a simple way, then that implies talent, skill, and ability. In gobs. Truckloads. Ten thousand hours. It’s when you can execute that perfect golf swing that looks like poetry in motion, or that tennis stroke that hits the sweet spot everytime.

In the three-step movie Step Up (2006, 2008, and 2010), dancers all below 30 years of age hip hop, b-boy, krump, pop, and turf their way across the screen for a magical 97 minutes. There’s even a scene with an updated Fred and Ginger sequence, and an Argentine tango scene in which an R&B groove slides into the classical tango music as gracefully as Gene Kelly slides in his tap shoes in the rain.

It’s masterful, the way the streetwear, the music and the moves flow together like paint swirls on an artist’s palette. Dance movies might be low on the storyline, but they energise and exhilarate, and make *you* think you could do some popping yourself.

There’s the rub: Making it all look easy. Because the easier it looks, the harder it is to do.


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