No matter what country you are from or what dance school you train at, I see the same choreography over and over again. Have we lost our sense of creativity or are we just playing it safe?
I went to see a dance school’s performance recently. I thoroughly enjoyed it. But, in my head I kept thinking, ‘I’ve seen this all before.’ I could almost predict the next movement. Let me clarify, I’m not talking about routines for little ones. The younger students need repetition and simplicity in order to develop their skills. I’m specifically talking about the age group 16 and up, where ‘out-of-the-box’ choreography can be worked into the routine.
How are we meant to progress our students to the next level, if we do not push our own minds further? A famous Owen Wilson once said in the movie Wedding Crashers, “They say we only use 10 per cent of our brains, I think we only use 10 per cent of our hearts”. (Yes, I did just quote that – don’t judge me!) Well, maybe he had a point. Can you not admit at least once, you have reached into your web of dance moves and pulled it out because you had a choreographic block? I have, and it is time we stopped.
Our role as choreographers and teachers is to inspire students, create ideas and develop technical growth. So how can we use more than 10 per cent of our brains? Let’s brainstorm together.
A dancer’s power tool is imagination. I love to pump up the volume on a song and just listen. This form of meditation can transport you to places of creativity you had no idea existed. Before I choreograph, I like to listen to that song on repeat until I can picture every accent, beat and abnormal sound in my head. Sometimes it can be cool to play songs that are totally opposite to your song choice and see if any movements can be drawn from that. I like to try these type of exercises with my students in creative workshops to see how their minds create ideas. A student has more chance of inspiring you first, than you them.
Watch widely, read widely
As a journalism graduate, the one rule we must always follow is, ‘you must read widely to be able to write beautifully’. Same applies to dance practice. How can we inspire those around us if we are not familiar with what our Arts fellows are producing? See as many dance shows as possible. Read as many dance columns as you can. It is important to watch dance events that are top notch brilliant and compare those with smaller events like annual dance concerts. Become immersed in your profession. Some great sources include Dance Informa, Dance Life, Pointe, Australian Dance Review, Dance Comp Review, Energetiks Blog (and of course Dance Writer!)
Try new hobbies for inspiration
Taking up a new hobby can clear the mind and renew the soul, according to Melbourne psychologists. If you reach out of your comfort zone, you might be surprised how different you see the world (and yourself in it). I like to aim to try new things each month so I can tick off that imaginary bucket list. If you know me well, you would know I have had a lot of wildly different jobs, I have travelled to many places and have studied more topics than my student debt can handle. I’m not saying my way to life is the one you should endorse, but a new activity here and there can only benefit you. There is nothing wrong with learning something new each day. Hobbies can be anything! Scrapbooking, horse riding, canoeing or sewing to name a few. Discover new passions.