How to make art
Number 1 Rule: There are no rules.
Number 2 Rule: Two minds are better than one…consider collaborating.
As an artist, and especially a dancer, a good collaborative spirit is vital to keep the creative juices flowing, good moral, and ones sanity in check. In my third year dance curriculum, I have the opportunity to partake in ChoreoComp. This is a show in which six of the third-year dance majors and six composition majors collaborate and make a new work together. This is a whole new ballgame of collaboration for me, for its more than just dancing to the tempo of the pianist, or choreographing a piece with a friend. The idea of creating something from nothing in conjunction with another artist who speaks a different technical language than you is both daunting and invigorating.
Number 3 Rule: Do something that scares you.
I was beyond terrified as I awaited the beginning of my first rehearsal. I had seen the second years dance, but I did not truly know them as artists. The idea of being responsible for the fate of a dance piece pressed down on me. Alex, Lua, and Naya entered the dance studio with a glimmer in their eye. I could tell they were excited and expectant to see what this process had in store for them. I brushed away the nagging fear in my head and I began to create. I tried not to judge things too much in the beginning ( how can you make something if you are always second guessing yourself?). Slowly I began to realize that this was more than just a collaboration of choreographer and composer, it was a grand collage of my creative voice, the dancers, and the composer.
I’m working with a composer named Jack. I knew we had to work together the moment we started talking about art we are inspired by. When both brought up the same little known contemporary Irish folk band called The Gloaming- I knew he was on my wavelength after that. We met on a sunny Friday afternoon with an electric guitarist to test out some sound samples for music. Jack asked for different frequencies, drone like qualities, and virtuosic slides on the guitar. I sat in a state of wonder and confusion. The most integral part of my choreography was a composition process that I barely understood. This gave me a strange comfort, and also the inspiration to work even harder on my end of this project.
Number 4 Rule: The creation process never stops.
I find myself making bizarre lists before I go to sleep, exchanging music samples with Jack while on the subway, and running to my notebook in the middle of a class to jot down an idea. Just as there is no discernible time frame to envisioning a dance, there is also no one way to choreograph. Just this past week the other 5 choreographers of ChoreoComp presented their current material. Some showed fragments, some showed phrases, and others entirely set sections. The creative process is one that unfolds in so many unique dimensions. After the showing we sat with the directors of the ChoreoComp project and exchanged feedback. The conversation was a strange mix of composers commenting on musical structure, and dancers using their own lingo to analyze movement phrases and the relationships they observed in the work samples of their peers. The feedback I received set me into another spiral of intense planning and scrutiny of the work I had made thus far.
Number 5 Rule: Trust in your vision, and follow your artistic voice.
Trust in oneself is easier said than done, but it is the most important part of any creative process. One has to have a trust so immense that it extends beyond themselves and welcomes outside influence. As far as artistic voice, that is also something which is never set. I know that at this stage in my vision I believe that art is about inviting an audience into a world, furnishing it with enough information to be intriguing, and then leaving the onlookers to create their own reality.
By Moscelyne ParkeHarrison