Only An Hour by Catharine Bramkamp

Only An Hour by Catharine BramkampLet’s welcome back monthly columnist Catharine Bramkamp as she shares with us “Only An Hour.” Enjoy!


Last month a friend commented that he gave up the theater because it was too much time and work to create a product that only lasted for two hours not including intermission.

He is not wrong. But he has forgotten the point of art: the process.

Yes, performing art is brief, a minute in the spotlight, a five minute solo (which by the way, is a long time to dance), the infamous walk on part.

All the audience sees is a polished performance, as if the artists simply walked onto a stage, or to the mic and here we are!

Of course, that’s not the reality. Even if the whole performance was created with AI, someone had to tell it what to do.


Northwest Tribes carved totems from long wood poles to post in the village – guards of the longhouses.

In the mid 19th Century and beyond, artists like Emily Carr worried about neglect and decay. She ventured out to islands off the British Columbia shores to capture these amazing works of art and there by creating her own art.

It was a way to share the totems with the public.

Professional  museum curators did one better. They frantically saved and transported what  they correctly interpreted as irreplaceable expression of a dwindling national identity.

In every North West museum there are stunning examples of totems, protected by state of the art buildings, or perserved in purpose-built glass boxes. Saved. Admired.

But for native artists, preservation was not the point. Totems were carved from a natural substance (trees), raised, admired, then allowed to gradually decay and return to the earth.

Totems were not meant to last forever, and the artists who created them knew this.

Dance was not meant to last

It doesn’t even translate to video very effectively.

It’s a shared experience, as Virginia Woolf said, a moment of being.

Dance is the creation, the process, and the practice.

The final result almost doesn’t matter. It was the practice that mattered, the camaraderie, creating something that required cooperation, team.

Or practicing moves to music to find something new in your body, even your soul, a singular moment – for the artist.

If the audience gets something out of the final performance, so be it.

But it’s not really the point. The point is the artist is changed, she had learned and conquered something new, she is more enriched for the experience.

Creating and sharing work that purposefully does not last is one of the few remaining acts against The Man, against the grindingly dull commodification of everything.

A live performance is like watching  the last of the Nationalist rebels, the freedom fighters.

Why art?

Because we need it. Because those five minutes on stage are a cumulation, and a gift to you. We are embroiled in the War of Art, fighting in the streets (albeit wearing sequins and towering wigs) for our souls and for yours.


Want to read more articles like this one Writer’s Fun Zone? Subscribe here.



Catharine BramkampCatharine Bramkamp is a successful writing coach, Chief Storytelling Officer, former co-producer of Newbie Writers Podcast, and author of a dozen books including the Real Estate Diva Mysteries series, and The Future Girls series. She holds two degrees in English and is an adjunct university professor. After fracturing her wrist, she has figured out there is very little she is able to do with one hand tied behind her back. She delights in inspiring her readers.

You may also like...