Last week I performed a duet I have been working on with Dwayne Antony Simms at Signatures, a platform for emerging choreographers and dancers, as part of Leicester's Let's Dance Festival. Luckily the performance went better than we had anticipated, and was very well received.
You may be wondering why we would anticipate it to go badly, but thats to do with something I know a lot of my friends struggle with as free lance artists - the lack of time for thought or preparation. Recently I was talking with my sister (she studies photography at Parson's New School in NYC) about the frustration in that it feels as though we never produce our best work, or reach the maximum of our capabilities, because eveything is squeezed in around, say in my case, the job that pays the rent. There is little continuity, rather things are produced in snatched moments of time.
Dwayne and I were anxious about performing our work because we had put it together in about five sessions, some of which weren't actually rehearsals but showings of the work to Peter Lovatt (aka Dr Dance who commissioned this duet to be part of his work INSPIRED: Psychology Danced), rehearsals happened in Manchester, Nottingham, London and Leeds, were at maximum about two hours and often with weeks in between each rehearsal. (Dwayne lives in Nottingham and I live in Manchester).
I realise that might sound like a big 'poor me' moan, but I am not trying to pull at your heart strings, I am merely indicating why Dwayne and I were feeling a little under prepared and worried. While there is no denying there are benefits of having restrictions and short amounts of time to produce work it can also be frustrating and difficult. It makes me appreciate the luxury of doing a dance degree - having the time and space to create.
Whilst thinking about this whole 'no time for thought' difficulty I had vague recollections of Twyla Tharp talking about the benefits to the creative process through isolation, and removal of distractions, in her book The Creative Habit (if you haven't got this book get it). So I had a quick scan through to see if I could find it for you. As I read her words I was wondering why I haven't looked it up soon, everything was so relevant. And I was reminded once again why this her book is a must for artists of all genres.
'When I look back on my best work, it was inevitably created in what I call The Bubble. I eliminated every distraction, sacrificed almost everything that gave me pleasure, placed my self in a single minded isolation chamber, and structured my life so that everything was not only feeding the work but subordinated to it. It is not a particularly sociable way to operate. Its actively anti-social. On the other hand, it is pro-creative.'
The Bubble sounds very appealing, and also unattainable, right now. But Twyla goes on to acknowledge that its not always possible to create the ideal bubble, and in fact its not always desirable to.
'This is the bubble. Everything you see, hear, touch, and smell gets trapped within immediately.....Being in the bubble does not mean being a hermit. You can function out in the world (indeed you have to), but wherever you go the bubble goes with you'.
I found this concept of the bubble coming with me helpful and inspiring, and wanted to share it with you because I know for sure I am not the only one who feels they need a little more pause for thought.