Creative leadership and its unexpected rewards

The Jury: Aya Dayan, Michael Finkel and myself, Michael took the selfie 🙂

The Aerodynamics Aerial acrobatics competition 2022


Two days ago, I traveled close to Jerusalem to a place called Tzora.

I went there for the second Aerodynamics aerial competition organized by studio Ola and two great entrepreneurial women, Lana Yokhin and Rina Mediony. Lana is a great dancer and aerialist, I had the privilege of directing once in a show she did for the Akko festival a few years ago, and Rina runs the Ola studio. Creative and entrepreneurial together, they make a fantastic innovative team that started this competition a year or two ago. There’s much to say about this initiative, and I will not say all here. Instead, I will say what made my day and possibly the past 20 years, returning from Tzora.

Inspiring evolution and growth

I’ll speak about the growth mindset of the organizers who made this year’s experience so much more livable and kind to the participants and the jury. Starting from the air conditioning in the hall, the seats, the toilets, the timetable during the day, the planned breaks we had, and most of all, their professionalism and kind hospitality that made being there from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM a much more agreeable privilege than it was in the first edition. 

More than anything else, I was struck by the participants of the competition. They weren’t as many as the last time, but there was more quality of work to see, and I was amazed to witness the progress. At the last competition, it was hard to distinguish the differences in style between participants; they all looked similar. From their musical choices to their costumes to the figures they used in their sequences (I couldn’t call the numbers more than that then) and their presence in performing them.

This year there was an impressive improvement in the diversity of thought and artistic expression. That was a joy to behold. From a concept of circus as mostly acrobatic virtuosity, the participants one and all started relating to their work as a creative artistic expression. Thinking about the idea, inspiration, story, the kind of music that goes with it, costume, and all the poetic elements Aristo spoke about in his Poetics

From one competition to the other, the concept of what they presented shifted from an acrobatics competition to art. 

At the end of the last competition, I said something from my heart which was along the lines of: “It’s thrilling to be in a space dedicated to “getting better and better” at what you do. Understanding the elements that make what you do better and incorporating them into your practice is the way to go. I look forward to seeing what will happen next time…”

Being with people from the heart

At the end of this year’s competition, I was moved to discover to what extent the participants who were there last time took to their heart and daily practice what we, the jury said. I’m sure that the encounter with other participants and teachers was a great fertile ground for mutual inspiration and potential growth.

What amazed me this year was the extent to which it worked. The whole concept of aerial creation is changed in one year. 

I was thrilled and moved to my bones because I know some professional artists who have been stuck in one technical level or creative space for years and seem to be happy this way. That always frustrated me. How is it possible in a profession built on the concept of “always getting better and growing to the next level” to stay the same? It’s a contradiction in terms. 

The people who participated in that competition are not professionals; they are kids ages 8-14, 14-17, 18+ and above 40, some of them may become professionals, and some never will.

Still, the group of participants above 40 amazed me the most, they took to heart what we said last year, and their work evolved so much for the better, both technically, artistically, and in the conception of their work and themselves, that I was awe-struck. 

I told them that, of course, and the other judges with me on that jury: Michael Finkel and Aya Dayan. We started giving higher-level comments and input about where they could go further and how vast and deep their creative work can still go. I saw them listening and taking these comments deep into their minds, hearts, and bodies. 

The trophies you may one day take home when you dare to lead

Yesterday I got a personal message from one of the participants; it said this: 

“Hi, I was a little tired yesterday and did not thank you properly for your feedback and the constructive encouragement. I’d love to have some more points and tips because I want to continue improving in every aspect of the field. Thank you so, so much; your attitude towards us fills me with emotion; we, the “older group” looking for expression and feeling in our lives, are not so connected to the world of art and creativity. Every time we learn something new… about ourselves and the world. A huge thank you! See you next year, and we will see how much we took and learned from you. For me, it is so so important”. 

I was moved to tears by this message. It proved to me that the way I am in the world matters; they realized that the way they express themselves in the world matters. That they are seen and that they matter. And they do so much; I can’t even begin to tell them.

I was moved to my core, thinking if I could only do the same with the words I write in this blog… I could change the world 🙂 

In any case, being a member of a jury is not an easy task. You score people on their performance, but the criteria are tricky, levels are different, and scores are ok but unimportant. The comments you write, and the feedback you give, are what make the real difference. You are there to move people forward, become better than they already are, grow, and evolve. They then develop the profession and how aerial acrobatics is practiced in Israel. And that, for me, makes all the difference. 

I am grateful for so many people’s investments in a profession that 30 years ago when I started, did not even exist in this country. Being a creative leader has its rewards if you only dare to lead.

If this touches you – share it wherever you can, comment, and participate in the creative conversation.

If you consider yourself a leader – take this assessment.

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