As teachers and choreographers, our students look to us as the beacon of creativity. Particularly at the start of a new year, dancers await the delivery of new pieces, concepts, movement and music. It is a very exciting time of the year for them when they anticipate where they will stand in formation, whether they will have a featured part, how the choreography will look and feel on their body, whether they will be chosen to partner and how the overall vision will take shape.
What happens though when this role model of inspiration is uninspired? What do we do when the ideas are not flowing, the choreography is stuck and there is no end in sight? This kind of “writer’s block” for choreographers can be frustrating and the vicious cycle stemmed from trying to force something only makes it worse. The addition of multiple numbers, deadlines and set rehearsal schedules can also exacerbate the issue. So what can we do? The first thing is to remember you are not a machine. While we all experience the pressure of wanting to produce beautiful and entertaining numbers, you are not a choreography factory. Remember YOU are a dancer and artist first. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in being the teacher we forget who we are; and that must take precedence otherwise there’s nowhere to go from there.
Also remember, the more you try to force something, the more resistant it’s going to be. So, while the anxiety might be mounting in terms of getting to it, sometimes it’s best to walk away for a bit and let it manifest on its own. Leaving things for a couple of days is not going to make or break you so, let things permeate for a bit and watch how things come to you when you least expect it.
Try things that are relaxing and stimulating to you that might cause an unexpected inspiration. These are some of my favorites: Take a walk in the park. Read a favorite book. Catch a classic movie at the theater. Go see a dance performance. Take class. Write in a journal. Listen to a new genre of music you wouldn’t normally listen to. Paint or draw. Visit a museum. Read the newspaper. People watch at a café. Look at wonderful works of architecture. Disconnect from technology and meditate. Dialogue with fellow artists. Improv in the studio.
The point of all the above is to go back to basics. Remember the things you love to do, simply because you love to do them and let inspiration come to you. It never works the other way around! Also, don’t be afraid to look to the dancers whom you currently have. Sometimes the best inspiration comes from watching them, identifying what their strengths are individually and as a group and what their performance abilities are. Sometimes the most incredible inspirations and ideas are literally right under our nose!
See you in the dance studio,
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