Sunday, March 24, 2013

Showing Up

In her book The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life, Twyla Tharp discusses entering into a new process.

"I walk into a white room.... other than the mirrors, the boom box, the skid marks, and me, the room is empty.... I'm in a room with the obligation to create a major dance piece. The dancers will be here in a few minutes. What are we going to do? To some people, this empty room symbolizes something profound, mysterious, and terrifying; the task of starting with nothing and working your way toward creating something whole and beautiful and satisfying. It's no different for a write rolling a fresh sheet of paper into his typewriter, or a painter confronting a virginal canvas.... Some people find this moment -- the moment before creativity begins -- so painful that they simply cannot deal with it. They get up and walk away... They procrastinate. In its most extreme form, this terror totally paralyzes people.... The blank space can be humbling. But I've faced it my whole professional life. It's my job. It's also my calling. Bottom line: Filling this empty space constitutes my identity. 

After so many years, I've learned that being creative is a full-time job with its own daily patterns...It's the same for any creative individual, whether it's a painter finding his way each morning to the easel, or a medical researcher returning daily to the laboratyry. The routine is as much a part of the creative process as the lighting bolt of inspiration, maybe more. And this routine is available to everyone.

Creativity is not just for artists.... I will keep stressing the point about creativity being augmented by routine and habit...." ~Twyla Tharp

I recommend reading the entire book to everyone, especially my composition students.

I also highly recommend making a "Daily Dance." Your audience might be the plants in your small apartment and your pet fish and they may not offer direct feedback, but the practice of showing up to the dance-making and the dance-performance will provide feedback, especially when habituated.

I'm often criticized for "not taking a break" and "working too hard, on and off the marley." Admittedly, I do, but I also take the process seriously. I take the work seriously, and I know that I need to constantly show up to the process. The performance process. The making of dances process. The dance education/ educator-reflection process. The practice of technique. It is only through regular practices that one will refine the craft (of anything... dancing, writing, teaching, taking care of other people, - maybe that's why many professional fields are called "Practices" - the Law Practice, the Medical Practice.)

In constantly showing up, I know that the results will not always be perfect. In fact, the more I practice, the more likely I am to fail, but I am also more likely to learn from those failures and have more tools with which to create and learn and grow. This process is totally frightening. No one likes to fail (- especially perfectionists).

So, although I just closed an amazing performance experience last night, I'm embarking on another performance journey this week. You're invited to share in the results of the last few weeks & months of research. And I appreciate you showing up to this process with me.

Who's invited? You!
To what? Preliminary findings... embodied research on ideas of beauty, identity, perception, time, and age
When? Friday March 29th & Saturday March 30th, 8pm
Where? The Performance Garage, Philadelphia
Hosted by Dangerous and Movin' Dance Company
Get tickets: Dance Box Office - Evol

I leave you with one of my images of inspiration from NASA's Earth as Art

Thanks for showing up with me!

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