Lady Gaga — Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta — emerged on the stage to greet the sold-out crowd at the Mohegan Sun arena on Saturday night nearly 70 minutes late. The fans in the audience did not seem to care. And the gutsy and glittery superstar, with her larger than life persona, did not disappoint. Gaga has proven herself to be one of the most creative and versatile performers around. Her voice, her sound and her image have transformed her into one of the biggest superstars of modern times. I personally find her fascinating.
During the two-hour extravaganza in Uncasville, she showcased her versatility. When she belted out songs like “Diamond Heart” and “A-YO,” I felt as if I were at a rock ’n’ roll concert. Just as effectively, she changed the mood as she slowed things down, truly showcasing her talent with songs like “Joanne” and her piano solo of “Edge of Glory.” Then things got lively again when she sang two of her most dance-worthy songs: “Bad Romance” and “The Cure.”
The show was fantastic, exceeding even my high expectations. The arena was filled with glitter, pyrotechnics, and shimmering with bright lights. Her stage set-up included a floating bridge that allowed her to traverse high in the sky and land to perform on three separate stages. Gaga had the audience on their feet for most of the show. What really struck me, though, was not a show-stopping number but instead a moment about two-thirds of the way through the show. At that point, Gaga completely stopped her performance. A woman near the front row had been injured during the festivities and was bleeding. The crowd became silent. Gaga bent down and softly asked her if she was ok. The woman responded with a brief acknowledgement. Gaga waited until paramedics took the woman out of the arena for medical evaluation. Then she turned back to the audience and said, “Some things are more important than show business.”
Lady Gaga is popular because of her musical talents and creative artistry, but her compassion is also a significant part of what feeds her fame. In June 2016, she joined the Dalai Lama at the 84th Annual U.S. Conference of Mayors, at which the importance of kindness and clemency were discussed. Gaga said that “the key to success in working against the evils in this world is rooted in perspective and unity.”
Ahimsa, from the Sanskrit meaning not to injure or show cruelty to any living being, is the first of the five yamas. The yamas are the ethical, moral, and societal guidelines described in the ancient yoga sutras of Patanjali. Although thousands of years old, they remain highly relevant today. As adopted in yoga practice, ahimsa is much more than the literal interpretation of nonviolence; it implies that in every situation we should adopt a kind, thoughtful, and considerate attitude and that we should exercise compassion. The core of compassion is suspending judgment in order to have an appreciation of others’ perspectives when they are different from your own. Compassionate individuals are genuinely concerned about other people and their needs. Compassionate leaders strive to create emotionally healthy and positively energized workplaces that support good morale and enhanced employee engagement and productivity. They have a people-centered approach, with a focus on connection and collaboration. Compassionate leaders genuinely care for the well-being of others and are attentive to their team members’ needs, which the leader puts before his or her own.
Lady Gaga is not only a pop star, but a humanitarian activist and a compassionate leader. Perhaps those latter two attributes are the things that truly resonate at the core with her fans. She is open, honest, and vulnerable, and she creates a common ground between herself and her fans. In an audience of over 10,000 people, Gaga made me feel welcome, understood, and part of a compassionate community. Her music was great, but that feeling was even better.