On creativity

Today, I’d like to talk a little bit (that’s a lie, this post is really long) about creativity, because I keep being reminded how it can be part of many different areas of one’s life, and I enjoy it every time.

My job is a creative one: I’m a dance artist and choreographer. I spend a lot of my time imagining projects, creatively responding to assignements, trying to facilitate someone else’s or my own artistic vision. And the medium that my creativity best expresses itself in is dance, movement and the body.

I really got into crafts a few years ago, when I had very little work as a dancer and really needed to acheive things and be creative. I needed to see the beginning and the end of one given project, in a much shorter amount of time than making a dance work would. So I started sewing and knitting more, I started taking pictures, cooking and generally making stuff.

I my work, in order to be creative, I need certain skills. I need time, space but most of all, because it’s my work, I need money. And I sometimes forget that this big project I’m trying to run comes from the same place as that little baby kimono I made the other day: it comes from an idea, an inspiration that is strong enough to make me want to realise it. (This actually reminds me of certain things David Lynch writes in his book “Catching the big fish”, read it, it’s quite inspiring). Anyway, the main differences between both projects are scale and possibly what’s at stake. But ultimately, it’s always about an idea, a curiosity and the momentum to realise it.

What I find wonderful about creativity in general, is that you don’t necessarilly need much. You don’t always need 5 collaborators with very specific skills, you don’t need tons of money and funding and institutional support and publicity. All you need is what you have available and a good problem solving type of mind.

A little while ago, I was asked by a community center where I’ve been artist in residence for a few years to take part in a small event they were organising for children and families. I happened last night. It was an evening event around the theme of the night. They assigned an activity to each of the three spaces of the venue, one for nightmares, one for dreams, one for bedtime stories. I was in charge of proposing a half hour dance exploration around dreams.

When they first asked, I didn’t have a clue about what I was going to propose. Especially for children aged 2 to 8. Wow, that’s quite an age gap. Also it wasn’t a workshop or a class, it had to be very enteraining, accessible and fun !

What I did isn’t so important. I invented a big journey through dreams (5 dreams) in different landscapes where specific things and dances would happen. But I didn’t only want to rely on speech because kids get bored and a little lost, and really feel like they’re at school when you keep throwing indications at them. So instead, I used some very basic, very simple crafty creativity.

And this is what it looked like :

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Basically, I searched into my fabric stash to find fabrics that would help me map out the landscape of each dream. I didn’t even bother hemming them, or preparing them at home. I knew that the big mirrors in the dance studio would be hidden with black fabric and that I could simply pin my fabric over that.

So I grabbed my fabrics, some pins, some safety pins, some fairy lights, 2 spot lights and my iPad for music.
I didn’t really know how I was going to set everything before I got there but I had so much fun doing it. The magic is, with children, you can just show them a rectangle of white fleece, if you suggest it’s a snowy mountain, they’ll just embrace that and travel to that mountain, or that island in the middle of the sea, or that magic castle.

I guess creativity is also about keeping that fresh juvenile mind. Being still able to imagine how a piece of wood, a ball of wool, or a few sheets of coloured paper might become a whole different thing. Imagining it, and doing it.

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I’ll soon have a baby and I hope I’ll stay creative around the house for him or her as she grows. I hope I’ll build her a castle in a cardboard box, or pin a fabric landscape to the wall. And I really hope he or she will be able to let her imagination run free as I did when I was a child, and as I still do, and pin a hoop to a dress to turn it into a princess dress, or make an ant costume out of random pieces of clothes … I also hope this isnpires you to stay creative, because it doesn’t matter if we have the skills or the necessary equipment, what matters is how we let our imagination extend into the world through our creativity.

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