So, this little choreography is coming together slowly but surely, inspired by finding unusual musical choices & embracing the concepts of PLAY & EXPLORATION.
Both of those concepts relate to the entirety of Creative Process, not just dance... so whether you are a visual artist, musician, dancer, actor, writer, etc., I'm pretty confident that most art forms can relate to these elements of the process. ;)
So, let's take a brief look at these guys.
Play, fun, experiment, explore.
It's really about giving yourself permission.
So often we don't give ourselves permission... and it stifles our capacity, in life and in art.
In relation to bellydance, our rules are all too often ‘stick to bellydance moves’... but you don't have to at all! If you're looking at breaching the creative boundaries of the dance form and embracing the openness that is our new unlimited world of Fusion Bellydance, then by all means, go crazy, be dramatic, go TOO far (you can always pull it back if too far is reeeealllly too far.)
But if you don't go there you will never know where the limit is. You'll always just be timidly edging towards an unseen boundary that you may not even be remotely close to.
So take a chance, give yourself the gift of permission to PLAY by taking risks, experimenting with all those weird and wonderful ideas that probably won't make the cut, but they'll take you closer to something wonderful & undiscovered, outside your own comfort zone even. In these early days of creating allow yourself to 'go too far.' Trust me, it's well worth the time!!
So on the following few days in the studio, I personally had heaps of fun creating movement to sound, mostly by improvising but also taking time to be 'present' enough to make a note of documenting which moments felt for me to be hitting the mark.
I think a fully embraced, fully embodied improvisation is one of the most valuable parts of Creative Process. And when you do find the bits that resonate more deeply, make sure to take note!! Video is a great way to review or map out those moves that work, but you can also take good notes in your notebooks. Dancers often wrestle with how to document work, as so much of the work is in the 'now' of the movement. But we struggle on to document and do the best we can, often finding an amalgamation of drawings, written text, photos, videos, mnemonics and good old movement repetition.
When working directly with the music like this, some good questions to ask are:
1. What does the sound do to you? How does it make you want to move?
2. Does the music tell a story/ have a journey, and if so, how can your choreography reflect that?
3. How are both of these concepts interesting for the audience?
Feeling good while dancing is important, of course!! But as a choreographer you also need to think of what the audience is viewing. Likewise, living completely in the third person (ie, always thinking of what your dance LOOKS like) is equally unbalanced, as you risk cutting yourself out of feeling embodied and present during the performance.
Ok, so here's a bit more on that.
One of the dance floor remixes that I have chosen to use in this mash-up, while I really love dancing to it, it has a potential to be a bit ‘same-samey.' The pulse tempo is SO strong, it makes you wanna groove to just that tempo. Which, while it may be fun for YOU, is NOT necessarily so interesting for the audience who is watching.
It's about finding the balance of 'what is true to me as an artist, as a maker, and the authenticity of my expression' and 'what is engaging for the audience who are witnessing the work, is it accessible, does it include them, or am I just up here for my own ego.'
So this is the perfect point at which I will mix up my process in creating a choreography. Rather than responding to the music alone, I'm going to start working with combos, shapes & moves I really love. Then I'll try it out to the rhythm that is underlying this slightly trickier musical situation.
And then sometimes...
We all know it, and we all know how darn frustrating it can be.
Try as you might, the repeated attempts to get unstuck, if unsuccessful, can only lead to further frustration.
If you find yourself in this part of Creative Process, when, no matter how hard you try, no matter how many times you try, no matter how many new ways you try to approach solving this problem, you can't seem to move forward, then the best thing you can do is actually take a break.
It may seem counter-intuitive, (especially when working to a deadline that is looming), but really, this is what you need to do in order to shift the work.
Take a walk, do something different for a period of time, pack it away for the moment. You can and most likely will come back to it with a fresh idea.
This much welcomed 'fresh idea' is known as the "aha moment" and often it happens when we aren't thinking about it, when we aren't looking for it… in the shower, driving, cooking, in the mundane daily tasks of life. Sound familiar?
The elusive 'aha moment' can take you by complete surprise, and this is totally normal. The solution presents itself in complete and utter (or near) perfection, redeeming you from all the ugliness of being a blocked artist and all the negative emotions that can accompany it.
So put this in your back pocket:
When you get stuck, which is a totally NORMAL part of creativity, do NOT panic. Instead, simply walk away. Take a shower, switch hats, change rooms, get something to eat. Go to a different project, just DO something else. Shake it up.
Even under the pressure of a deadline, put it down, let it go... even 10 minutes can work wonders!!!
Trust me, it is so much better to recognize there is indeed an obstacle, take a break and come back refreshed, with new eyes, new vision… and hopefully with the aha moment of solution.... than to keep flogging a dead horse and beating yourself up in the process. Now THAT'S counter-productive.
Most of all, as I said, don't be discouraged. It's normal.
And if you haven't guessed by now... yup, the fact I'm here right now, writing this part into the blog, it's for that very reason. I'm stuck!!
Here’s hoping a new perspective will reveal itself when i return!!
..and THANK GOODNESS!!! The tried & tested advice laid out above about getting 'stuck' (which by the way isn't mine alone, it's just composite knowledge on Creative Process)...
Worked!! I am refreshed and inspired, in the studio again armed with an abundance of creative potential.
I've found the musical thread of my journey, ie, inside the mash-up. That's a huge win.
I've been following a trail of breadcrumbs on how to put it together, highly inspired, but also sabotaged by the desire for perfection.
In other words, my grand & aspirational ideas for the BEST MUSIC MIX EVER!! have had to meet the reality of my deadlines.
The timeframe isn't just whats pushing me, but the costs. Studio costs, childcare costs to be in the studio, time costs...
Time is so precious and you know what, sometimes you just gotta move forward despite the imperfections or fear of falling short of your own ideals and expectations.
PERFECTIONISM is an ugly beast that will try to sabotage your Creative Process. Know this and give it a wide berth. It is NOT your friend. Strive for excellence, yes....but Perfectionism... nah ah. It's never going to serve you.
And now, with my musical landscape in place, my stuckness unstuck, and my perfectionism in check, it's time to put some choreographic flesh on this skeleton and start making serious choices about the improvisational work that has lead me here.
In my opinion there’s two ways to go when you are working in performing arts- you can challenge yourself or go with your strengths.
Both are completely valid pathways, and I believe your choice is best determined by the situation and the stakes involved. Sometimes it's the right environment to take huge creative risks, sometimes it's better to go with the tried & tested arena of your strengths. Only you can make that choice.
Having come into dance late in life and with an extensive background in performance art and theatre, my strengths reside in the kooky, contemporary, 'out there' genres.
Yours may be technique... maybe you excel at spins, locks, foot patterns, arm work…
Your strength may be performative in that 'present-on-stage' way.
It may be in finding creative music, movement or costuming choices.
It doesn't matter... when choosing to work with your strengths, first of all be honest with yourself and KNOW your strengths. If you don't know them, I strongly recommend you ask some peers or supportive friends to help you identify them.
And before anyone goes into that self-deprecating place of ‘I don't have any’, well that's not true and it serves no one to think that way, much less yourself. EVERYONE is good at something and chances are if you’re a creative, (or being creative), you are already investing in your process, which means practice, which means your getting better at what you're choosing to invest in… So you have some strengths to say the least!
Right, so I've decided, here I am..
I'm gonna do some wacky performance art stuff alongside the dance with this piece. I'll add a little intro music to set the scene... Who is this character? Jazz singer? Tortured unrequited lover? Is she from another era?
I sense that this woman is... a FEMME FATALE!! Why of course! (Aha moment, right there ;P) Yes yes yes, I'll base my dance around a Casablanca style film noir femme fatale!!
More story to come, but for now, I've found yet another hook of inspiration that will take me those next steps further down the track of Creative Process. Exciting.
Time for a bit more research, consolidation of ideas as they are forming & gathering, and of course, more play & crafting time in the studio.
I'll keep you's posted...
And by the way, the performance date is coming soon. April 21st at Soul Fire in Adelaide... So the next & FINAL part of this blog process will hopefully include a video & some photos of the performance itself.
Til then, keep creating, keep making, keep exploring, be gentle with yourself but rigorous in the process. And keep your eyes peeled for more fun stuff soon from Antaresia Tribal.