The performing arts are those forms of art which differ from the plastic arts insofar as the former uses the artist’s own body, face, and presence as a medium, and the latter uses materials such as clay, metal or paint which can be molded or transformed to create some physical art object. The term “performing arts” first appeared in the English language in the year 1711.
Performing arts include the dance, music, opera, drama, magic, Spoken word and circus arts. Artists who participate in performing arts in front of an audience are called performers, including actors, comedians, dancers, magicians, musicians, and singers. Performing arts are also supported by workers in related fields, such as songwriting and stagecraft.
Performers often adapt their appearance, such as with costumes and stage makeup, etc. There is also a specialized form of fine art in which the artists perform their work live to an audience. This is called performance art. Most performance art also involves some form of plastic art, perhaps in the creation of props. Dance was often referred to as a plastic art during the Modern dance era.
Education in the performing arts is a key part of many primary and secondary education curricula and is also available as a specialisation at the tertiary level. The performing arts, broadly dance, music and theatre are key elements of culture and engage participants at a number of levels. This engagement through participation and formal and informal education is often life long.
The end point for performing arts education varies, for some people it is part of their engagement in their own and others culture, such as that of indigenous peoples and folklore, for others it leads to professional careers up to an elite level.
For this latter group, depending on the discipline, the physical demands are such that early entry into training can be essential. This is seen particularly with classical ballet and circus arts.
Performing arts are often a core curriculum area in education and seeks to expose students to ways to “express ideas and emotions that they cannot express in language alone”. The curriculum needs to be sequential, from preschool to high school, to develop “students’ skills and understanding of creating, performing, and responding”, to “promotes knowledge and understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of the arts” and provide opportunities for students to make connections among the arts, with other disciplines within the core curriculum, and with arts resources in the community.
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