Remember: This is FUN.
This weekend I had the honor to be a part of Tempest’s Waking Persephone event in Providence, Rhode Island. Many of the workshops focused on personal exploration of the dance, as well as creative, and unusual topics in belly dance. My own workshop focused on structured creative activities that dancers can use when choreographing dances.
Throughout the weekend, one theme that kept popping into my head: the importance of play in the creative process. As adults, we sometimes lose touch with our childlike selves, giving in to pressures of being “mature” and “responsible”. (Those aren’t unnecessary quotation marks.) But, if we are to be consistently creative beings, we must remember this is supposed to be FUN goddamnit!
On one side of the creative process is the refinement of technique. Of dedication to our craft from a methodical, habitual, and dedicated practice. That would be attending drills and technique classes; learning about rhythm and meter; looking up lyrics to songs; and building strength, flexibility, and stamina. Without this hard work, we have no platform on which to present our creativity.
On the other side, which is equally as important, is the development of the creative self. Allowing ourselves to have fun, to be whimsical, to let go and just dance in the privacy of our living room or home studio, of going on small adventures, of going out with friends and being silly. The Artist’s Way emphasizes the development of diversion as a positive and nourishing activity through the weekly Artist Dates, where you take yourself out, alone, on a date somewhere: a garden, a walk, a movie, a museum, an art store, or anywhere else that might be outside your regular routine. Observing children can also be a huge inspiration. I love watching and talking to children between the ages of 5 and 12 because they still have that sense of uninhibited whimsy, yet they’re developing their own distinct personality. They are instinctual beings, and aren’t yet terribly self-conscious or likely to feel embarrassed about what they like or say. They inspire me to do the same. I also love the activities in Twyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit and the fun and freeing movement explorations in Blom and Chaplin’s The Intimate Act of Choreography.
I’ve realized that I’ve been serious for much too long where I didn’t need to be so. I am still very serious about my dance practice and attending classes, but the veil of self-consciousness that I have worn for years is worn and tired.
It’s time to shed the facade of seriousness and go have a good time…. and not care what people think about you. If you follow what brings you joy, you will find more joy, and you’ll find plenty of people with whom to share it. I certainly did this weekend in Providence.