Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

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Permission Granted: Dancing our Insanity

August 4, 2010

“Permission granted.”  With one wave of the magic wand, the dancers zealously transformed into lunatics. As I was searching for an image to illustrate this piece, it suddenly occurred to me that I felt like a fairy godmother bestowing everyone with mysterious powers and that I needed a photo of a magic touch.The “big hair” theme emerged from the choices offered… a delightful happenstance that caught my creative whim…had to do it… too good. Hysterical. Perfect for paying homage to the creative genius unleashed when the dancers were invited to explore their insanity.

This dance was dedicated to the Tarot card of the Tower. The Talking Heads tune “Burning Down the House” kept running through my brains, egging me onto dismantling our fundamental structures, our castles in the sand. What could be more undone than lunacy? Whether we care to admit it or not, I’m sure every one of us has had moments when we perceive our own manic-ness. Rather than sweep that under the carpet, why not expose it and give it space, giving ourselves the chance to embrace that as a part of our wholeness? Frankly, I feel we are all on the edge of “reason” whatever that even means… allowing insanity can be pretty darn funny and wildly creative.

What is fascinating and a bit sad perhaps is that generally, permission needs to be granted to go to places that are “dark,” “crazy,” “sexual.” People usually don’t go there of their own accord. An invitation by a “leader” however, is met inevitably with great enthusiasm. Curious. What I am finding is that there are such amazing gifts to be discovered in going “there.” I write this to dare us all to give ourselves permission. Invite ourselves to our own party. Truly, what are we waiting for?!

Observing everyone dancing out their madness, people moved in ways I had never seen them express themselves in several years of dedicated practice. Sometimes the driving beat was categorically ignored taking dancing to the beat of one’s own drummer to another level. Voices engaged in wild expression. Rampant creativity  and total presence were never more palpable. Most of all, people were having tons of fun. We get to be whackos every day when we are kids, spinning ourselves out on our own delirium. How ever do we lose touch with cracking ourselves up on our own bellybuttons and drool? Note to Self…

When we shared our experiences after the session, someone felt that it was more exhausting to dance madness. My take on this is that you had to actually be more present in order to embody this state. You couldn’t just trance out or dance on automatic. Your imagination responding to the music and to the people in the room was full tilt boogie. Not that it isn’t otherwise but the invitation to dance crazy evoked a super fresh response. Most people agreed that they had discovered ways of moving they could never before have imagined.

I guess that’s my longing here, that this may inspire you to dance and live outside your box, to be your own invitation to creative adventure, to see your “madness” as your genius. The only permission needed is your own. You are truly the master of the magic wand.

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Express Yourself: Dancing the Fifth Chakra

May 10, 2010

“I missed the freedom of expression,” a dancer answers when I ask how they feel about the fifth chakra dance session we’d just concluded. Hmmm… I was hoping to create a context where greater creativity of movement could be fostered. Suddenly the demons of creative insecurity raise their ugly heads wanting to engulf me… perfect. We had danced a piece on expanding self-expression: I had gone out on a creative limb with the structure of the evening’s session and this feedback touches the core of my own self-expression.

Many people have received very little positive feedback for their creative endeavors and experiments in their lives. We started the session sharing stories of the messages we’ve been given about our artistic abilities: being told we can’t sing, that we had poor fashion sense, that we couldn’t cook, and so forth. Scholastic achievement gets much more attention; art, writing, decorating is just that “cute” thing you do. My mother was always hoping that I’d grow out of my love of theater and become a business major… the prevailing idea being that you can’t make money with art. Granted, it’s challenging in a society that doesn’t value it highly. Never did make a living with it but I have never regretted the enriching experience of following my heart and doing what I loved.

The fifth chakra deals with expressing one’s truth, being authentic in communication, The idea with the dance session was to cycle through different body parts, letting them express their story in their own language. For example, I’d call out, “Feet,” and everyone would explore their feet, first on their own and then with other dancers.  My intention was to encourage everyone to break out of their patterns and expand their movement vocabulary. Ecstatic dance usually has very little structure so I was taking a big risk departing from the norm and what the dancers were used to. I came to the session excited to play with this creative experiment. I was going to draw outside the lines…

What was curious though, was that the structure I imposed on the dance seemed to get some people more in their heads than breaking barriers. Conversely, other dancers totally moved beyond their comfort zones into fresh new territory and expansion. What was the challenge here? Observing the participants, I really could see how differently people approach creativity. For some, the task of dancing a particular body part opened the door to adventure; they relished the problem-solving quality of the exercise. There was something specific to work with, just enough of a parameter to use as a foundation to jump into the unknown. Without the invitation to intimately delve into their feet, they would not have necessarily gone there on their own and missed this rich experience. For others, structure became a head-trip, a nuisance, and closed down their self-expression. These folks operate more fluidly with an empty canvas. The blank page terrorizes others….

“I missed the freedom of expression,” says the dancer. “Ah, but what might be interesting to see,” I answer, “is that the invitation is for feet AND freedom of expression, spine AND freedom, hands AND freedom. They don’t exclude each other. Just see how your resistance to structure  prevents your flow when it is there actually to help. ” I remember hearing Osho, the Indian spiritual master, give a talk about creativity and how we could approach and engage in the most mundane acts as artists…. things like washing the dishes, doing the laundry, shopping. It really is a question of being present to whatever act you are doing and enjoying it. You will never wipe the windows in the same manner again…. you are dancing over the pane with the cloth, swirling this way and that, zig-zagging, making wide sweeping gestures. Next time you do this same act, you will probably do it differently. The window becomes your blank canvas. Windows AND freedom. Creativity is that simple and we all are artists. Take a risk and draw outside the lines. Express yourself!

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“I Can’t Dance!”- The Creativity Wound

February 16, 2010

Feeling sad tonight….

Why have we become so wounded in our creativity? I am so tired of hearing, “I can’t dance.” Maybe because we watch shows like “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance?” Panels of people judging you publicly….Humanity’s been dancing since the dawn of time…how did we get so estranged from this?  The title should be, “So you think you CAN’T dance?!”

… And they keep taking funds away from art programs at school. It’s only creative minds that are going to be able to tackle challenges with an “out of the box” approach.

So I feel sad… people have bought some lie someone gave them in their youth about not being good at art, music or dance. And they never seek to disprove what their fifth grade teacher told them! It is such a deep wound that isn’t given much attention… it only has to do with creativity after all. So what if you are no good at art or dance?

The problem is that we are all so infinitely creative! I guess that’s what I love so much about ecstatic dance… total space to just be who you are… get weird and no one cares. What freedom! That’s what the powers that be are afraid of…free spirits…harder to control.

Thing is… we have that freedom available to us every moment… you don’t need a dance floor  for that… just give yourself permission and please, can we explore the myth that we lack talent?!