I’ve been a bit un-inspired in my blog writing recently, hence no blog posts for a bit too long. So I thought an interesting topic would be inspiration to dancers and choreographers. The past few months, I’ve been so busy dancing in other companies and rehearsing for productions, I haven’t had much time to create or feel inspired or uninspired in my own choreographing. Though I have been feeling quite inspired in my dancing and performing, I haven’t done as much creating as I’d like to. During this little bit of down time this month before tour, I’m hoping on getting in the studio and working on my own dances.
Where do I look when I feel uninspired?
I think inspiration takes work; inspiration has to be sought out. It has a lot to do with choosing the influences you want and copying, then tweaking, and finally creating one’s own work.
While performing a couple weeks ago in The Nutcracker with Festival Ballet Albuquerque, I watched the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier from the wings. They never ceased to inspire awe–the plum’s grace, control, the softness of her arms yet her quiet strength. It inspires my dancing, although flamenco can be starkly different from the Sugar Plum Fairy suite, the drive, determination, power, presence, and grace carry over into any form of dance. So one place I look for inspiration is dance (or dancers) outside of the genre of flamenco. Sometimes I need to take a step back from flamenco to really feel inspired in my dancing, and then in my flamenco dancing.
|Watching the Sugar Plum and Cavalier from the wings.|
A big inspiration for me is listening to music–to music that inspires me. I can’t say what it is about certain musicians or songs that make me want to move, but there is music that I can’t help but dance to. And listening to songs over and over, realizing new nuances is exciting. It’s the same idea with the movements once I’m in the studio–in doing a movement over and over and over, I find subtleties, new ways to give it life and imbue my intentions into the choreography. But that only happens in conscious repetition.
Here’s a video of Carmen Linares, a singer that endlessly inspires me.
I think it’s also so important to develop a relationship with various dance teachers and mentors. A teacher can find the words to make your dancing inspired and completely embodied since they can see you from the outside, and have probably experienced the ups and downs you experience in the present. In a contemporary class with a teacher I’ve studied with for several years, I lost myself in the movement entirely and fully danced the combination after she gave a speech about where she thinks the actual dancing is in the dance–in the in-between movements, not the final shapes–and how we move between them. I needed to hear that. To be reminded of what dance is.
Last year, when I took a workshop with Adrian Galia I witnessed how just about anything can spur a new dance step. He would come into class each day inspired by a series of sounds or a rhythm he had heard on the street. And he would try to recreate those sounds in flamenco. Those ideas did not just come to him–he had his ears open to find sounds to recreate or build off of; again, letting yourself be inspired is a state of mind. And I think looking at other art forms, daily life, influences beyond the art form you focus on is key to keeping my work fresh both to myself and to others.
|Even sounds on the NYC streets can spur inspiration if your ears are open.
Maybe that’s a little cheesy, but inspiration is more a state of mind.
Another part of inspiration is having goals and deadlines. Really, I think nothing gets done without a deadline. Even if it’s a self-created deadline, there has to be a reason to do something and a date by which it must be done (at least for me). It’s not that I don’t love dancing and would not spend all day in the studio if I could, but I need a reason to put a piece together to actually get it done, rather than spend hours and hours experimenting in the studio.
So, here’s to a year of inspiration! 🙂