Week number one of 2019 is almost in the books, and if you are like me you are still mulling over your resolutions for the year. One thing I know for sure is that I want to spend more time fostering my creative skills through choreography in 2019. Choreography, like all other forms of creative expression, is a skill one has to practice actively. Too often, our choreographic processes are rushed due to complicated schedules, limited rehearsal time, and pressure from too many other responsibilities. This year, I want to prioritize creative practice in my life, and give my choreographic impulses the time and attention they deserve. (Quick disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link!)
Here are a few of the creative practices I’m resolving to adopt this year:
1.) Create regularly. Even if you don’t have any major projects in the works, make it a point to choreograph something on a regular basis. This keeps you in the habit of making dances, however small, and holds space in your schedule that you can use to work on larger projects when needed. Need some inspiration to keep you creating on the regular? Follow me on Instagram or check out this post and this one too for weekly #ChoreographyAdventures, prompts to inspire short “dancettes” that you can make in your living room!
2.) Keep a journal. The most creative time in my life was my final year of graduate school, while I was working on my thesis concert. Of course it is easy to be inspired when you are surrounded by a talented cohort and incredible faculty all the time, but I think the major thing that helped me turn that inspiration into actual creative work was journaling. As directed by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way, I wrote three stream-of-conscious pages each morning, and was amazing by the ideas that emerged! Whether you follow a prescribed method of journaling or just wing it, taking the time to express your creative impulses in written form can have major benefits for your choreography as well! For inspiration, check out The Holistic Guide to Journaling for Choreographers, a list of 52 prompts to help choreographers and dance composition students reflect holistically on their creative practice and growth as dance makers.
3.) Ask for feedback. As artists, we are often our own worst critics. We project our negative opinions of our work in process onto others, and often the mere thought of inviting them to give feedback can be nothing short of paralyzing. Having an outsider weigh in throughout your process can be transformative, however. They bring a fresh perspective, affirming your best impulses and helping you work through rough patches. Dance is a performative art, after all, and the audience’s reaction is important to consider throughout the creative process. Find a trusted friend or advisor who can be the audience for your works-in-process, reviewing and giving feedback on your work at various stages of it’s creation.
4.) Give yourself one major creative goal to meet this year. Having a tangible goal (and a plan for it’s accomplishment!) is an important way to keep you focused on your creative work throughout the year. Your goal could to be submit a completed piece to a festival, or to rock your students’ recital dances, or to share a dance video on social media each month. Whatever you choose, be sure that it is manageable and that you have a plan for it’s completion – otherwise you’ll set yourself up for frustration.
5.) Get support. The idea of the solitary artist is pervasive in our culture. But I’ve found the most successful choreographers are often the ones who surround themselves with a supportive team. Hopefully, there are other dance artists in your local area with whom you can set up a solid mutual support system. If you haven’t found this yet, check out National Choreography Month (NACHMO). This “choreographic kick in the pants” is an amazing resource, with plenty of opportunities for encouragement from other choreographers nationwide. You can also join me on Facebook at The Holistic Dance Teacher, where you are always welcome to post videos for peer review, crowd source music or costume inspiration, or just discuss the triumphs and challenges of being a dance artist today!
Visit my Resources page for tools that support a holistic teaching and creative practice. Keep in touch by signing up for my quarterly newsletter, or join me on Facebook at The Holistic Dance Teacher.