Big Magic in Dance
Having gone through multiple creative processes over the past few months (and years), in pole dance fusion or in contemporary dance, I have been thinking a lot about creativity. Mainly in relation to the harshness of the solo process and how the next time might be easier than the time before, or how a short process is different to a longer process, or what tools I could utilise in order to reduce the stress of the process. I got carried away, and although I spoke to other artists about their process, I was looking for more. I felt like I needed someone else to be honest about their frustrations within a creative practice they are so passionate about.
I got what I wished for
I found the book “Big Magic” written by Elizabeth Gilbert and I fell in love with it straight away. I have literally told everyone about this book and I will continue to do so as I am now. When my head wasn’t buried in academic books or journals (which I love by the way) I literally could not put this book down. It spoke to me on so many levels and made everything feel ok; it made me see the process as something good again.
In short, the book is about creativity and what the process entails for many artists in various disciplines. The author speaks of her time within her own writing processes; what it was like writing as an unpublished author who received many rejections, writing as an author who was massively successful, and writing as, well, someone who just enjoys writing. Ultimately, whatever she was writing for, the commitment she offered to her creativity was always the same. She put in the same amount of effort to her unpublished work as she did to her published work. Further, she didn’t ever expect anything from her creativity so there was no pressure.
This was refreshing and interestingly enough, it changed the way I see my own process. Sometimes I expect miracles from myself and I have learned that it just doesn’t work that way.
Creativity is something that moves through everyone in different ways. For me, it has always been through movement; even before I was a dancer or a choreographer.
This book prompted me to think about what the universe is feeding me as I move through my own creative processes and how much information I take on board. What is presented to me in terms of music, movement, inspiration for the work or how I make editing decisions? What I am open to? How many hunches do I pay attention to? What do I ignore? What could I listen to that is telling me to make the work better?
At the moment I am very much presented with research into pole dance, autobiographical narrative and improvisation and it is providing a very fruitful chaos of thought that is feeding my practice in ways I never could have imagined.
Overall, what I learned from this book is that I shouldn’t expect anything from my process apart from what I love to do and that is to dance and create. Whatever comes out will be great or crap, either way, the commitment to the practice is never wasted. Which, I suppose, is what I’ve thought all along, but I just needed that extra little bit of validation.
Maybe you need that too?