20 Minutes of Creative Action: an update

March 8, 2013

You might remember that I wanted to make a Small Dance. Specifically, I challenged myself to make a dance confined to a small-ish space (the actual performance space is 9' x 22'- not super small) that focused on movement, versus props or text or character (what my 'dances' often involve). To be honest, the biggest goal was to get myself to take creative action after a bit of a hiatus.

I had trouble getting started. So, I made a list of what I like-- text or images or ideas I have a strong response to. Lately I can't stop thinking about Brad Liening's poems, which he shared at our house in November. I'm using a couple of them as jumping off points-- and I might use them as part of the sound design.

I booked a performance date, so there's a little bit of a fire under my a*s.
And, I made a playlist of music that puts me in the headspace of the piece, but which probably won't be a part of the actual performance.

Since then I've been spending my rehearsal time improvising, generating vocabulary, video taping/watching, and starting to put together some movement phrases.

Daily 20: The Pros and Cons
The first two weeks of working for twenty minutes a day went mostly smoothly. I allowed a lot of space for what 'working' on the dance meant: reading the poems, writing, improvising, etc... Then when I was writing a grant and crunched for time, I decided that writing a grant counted as working on my dance! CHEATER! Seriously, though, the two are not the same. As artist Sister Corita Kent said

Don't try to create and analyze at the same time. 
They're different processes. 

The process of writing grants is excellent practice for talking about the work you make. But, it's not the same as making the work.

I like the Daily 20, because it makes me revisit the material often, and take consistent action. Also, I have learned that you can get a lot done in 20 minutes.

What I've disliked about the Daily 20 is that it doesn't allow for days off, and sometimes space away from a project is important. Also, there comes a point when 20 minutes isn't enough. What the project needs right now is larger chunks of time to throw material together. So, while I do have 20 minutes, I am very aware that I actually need 40 to feel like I got something accomplished.

The  Conclusion
Figure out how to get from point A to point B. Whatever gets you started and moves you forward is the right approach. This project has reminded me that creativity is largely about consistency, and making space. I get the best ideas when I'm well rested, having new experiences (seeing people and other art), away from my computer, and taking regular time to myself. That's hard to make space for. But, so worth it.


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