I come from a basketball family. My grandfather, Mike Del Val, was inducted into the Basketball Coaches Association of New York in 2007 for coaching 45 years. My dad was a 35-year basketball coach, ending his career as the head coach of the Wahpeton (N.D.) Huskies. Believe me, I know the phrases “box out,” “play D” and “man to man” like I know “move stage left” and “strike that set piece.”
I have no memory of not going to high school basketball games. I even remember watching David Richman, North Dakota State University’s head coach, play for my dad’s team in the ’90s.
So I was excited, like many in our community, to watch NDSU’s basketball team make it to the Big Dance. I’ll let you in on another little secret: I babysat the mighty Dexter Werner as a baby. I don’t think it’s appropriate to take too much credit for his current prowess, so I’ll just say it’s no surprise to me that he stepped up to the plate in such a huge way.
Before that game, however, I was at Ellen Hopkins Elementary School’s third-, fourth- and fifth-grade musical, “Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Kids.” My little friend India Carlson played Tangle, a fairy, and she invited me to see her school stage debut. Directors Joan Degerness and Chris Olson produced an incredible show.
Those kids didn’t just kind of memorize lines and mumble through some songs. They sang with gusto, they moved with panache, and they put on a very enjoyable evening of theater.
I got home to see the beginning of the NDSU game, and I was struck by the similar drama and theatrics. The exposition of the players being introduced where we learn their size, year in school and position isn’t that different from the opening minutes of “Sleeping Beauty,” where characters were introduced and their important personal information was shared with the audience.
And then there was the F-M Symphony Orchestra’s Masterworks Concert Saturday night.
The guest cellist, Sergey Antonov, arrived on stage with his glorious cello, and for a brief moment, it was like waiting for the player at the foul line to shoot. In the seconds before he began to play, you could feel the audience willing him to take us on a musical journey, to propel our experience, to “make the shot,” and he did not disappoint.
Concertmaster Benjamin Sung, my son’s violin teacher for a number of years, used to say, “You need to know scales so well that you don’t even have to think when you play them.”
Isn’t that what happened with our Bison? Didn’t we see them step outside of the three-point line and effortlessly bank shot after shot? Think how many three-pointers Lawrence Alexander has shot in his short life. Hundreds? Thousands? It’s no different for an actor or a musician or a dancer or an artist. When you practice something over and over again, your body intuitively knows what to do, and you do it.
The same way each drive and successful shot Werner made on Friday enthusiastically drove the crowd, multiple moments of the concert thrilled the audience.
There’s a dramatic arc to sports — the anticipation, the action, the agony of defeat and the ecstasy of the win. There’s the teamwork and the lone player who steps up when it’s least expected to surge ahead.
Guess what? That dramatic arc exists in the arts, too. Will those characters fall in love? Will the “bad guy” win or lose? Will the dancer or singer make a triumphant return? Will the performance be enough to arouse the audience’s emotional barometer?
Yes, March is the month of basketball madness, and I am watching and cheering and groaning along with so many of you, but I challenge you to seek out the dramatic arc in the arts as well. The rise, the fall, the drama and the theatrics: the same is as true in the arts as it is in sports.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports
This article is part of a content partnership with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and originally appeared in the Monday, March 30, 2015, issue of the paper.