Ahead of starting my PhD in September(waiting on confirmation for that), I am writing this weekly blog in the attempt to organise traces of my research for increased accessibility and reflection. How I reflect now, upon snippets of inspiring art works, videos, books, articles and classes I’ve been too, might change in a few years’ time and I think it is important to keep track of my thinking. Each of the weekly snapshots will contain supportive text as to why these sources are relevant to me. This will hopefully give you some insight into my work, but also offer you the chance to feel inspired and motivated to create your own work too.

The first share of the week has to be this screen dance work by MN Dance Company. The incredible location, combined with intricate partner work that later develops into duets, trios, quartets, and beyond, was captivating. For me, the part that stood out most was the scene where the company of 8 are standing behind a table, looking out at their audience,  just before they introduce a sharp switch in dynamics. It reminded me of Fosse’s work in Big Spender, though their intention and movement was different. According to their description of the work, the primary stimuli for movement was in the interactions between a man and a woman, and how lines in movement could parallel to the architecture within the stunning location.

Steal Like an ArtistNext, I want to share my thoughts on Steal like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You about Being Creative. Throughout this book, Kleon writes with authenticity, sharing his experiences about leading a creative life by stealing from other artists. I remember seeing this book, way before I considered myself to be creative, and thinking, why would anyone openly admit that they steal from other artists to create their “unique” work. However, as he states, and as I now know, all art is theft in some way or another. All art work, even if it is not about the maker, is autobiographical because it comes from a place of their knowing. Seems logical.

There was a load of gems to be taken from this book, but here are a few prominent quotes. They were things I already knew, and do, but reading about them reaffirmed my value of those actions.

  • “Don’t’ keep a rejection file, keep a praise file.” – I’m already on it. As a way to stay motivated when I am feeling drained, I have been keeping a folder of positivity since I started dancing again in 2013. It ranges from positive feedback about my theory and performance work, messages from friends / audiences / students, pictures that show clear before and after progress of my physical ability, positive quotes, and great reviews about my products – eBook and Choreography Cards. Like Kleon, all of the negative stuff is deleted, including rejection letters and any messages from trolls.
  • “Don’t wait for anything before you start creating your own work.” – Restrictions of space, money, time or anything else that is preventing you the creation of a new work, including injury, are all excuses. The right constraints can lead to your best work. When I was creating a pole piece a few years ago, I couldn’t gain access to the pole on one scheduled rehearsal, so instead of going home, I put a coat where the pole was usually positioned in the space and I explored the movement around the pole as if it were there.
  • “To create work that is high quality, you must surround yourself with people and work that is of high quality.” I’ve come across this notion in various different books, but the one that stands out the most, reiterated recently, by Tim Ferriss, is that you’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. From this, I have been looking at who or what inspires my work. What was the last piece of live work I watched? Who do I currently take advice from? Who do I want advice from? How can I contact them to ask them? Apply these questions to yourself. I can confirm that asking for advice works at an 80% success rate of people writing back with their feedback.
  • “Complain about the way other people make software by making software”. Or in other terms, instead of criticizing the work of other practitioners, use that energy to make your own. Create the work you want to see. For me, it’s something that contains a powerful message, is raw in its content and showcases the versatility and strength of a body that can speak through movement.

On a completely different note… In search for some deeper insight into the potentially entangled relationship between audience and performer in pole dance, I came across this work “The Death of the Pole Dancer” by Eisa Jocson. The concept of the piece negotiates power, sexuality and voyeurism within pole dance performance. Jocson’s theoretical thinking behind the work reminded me that a pole dance routine is one thing, but to create art about pole dance is an entirely different story. A pole dance about pole dance, similar to my work in Object (auto) Biography doesn’t just break the boundaries of an aesthetic commonly found in pole dance, it aims to respond to or discuss questions relevant to the stigma that is so tightly attached to the pole as an object. This is easily one of the most interesting pole art works I have ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot! Bravo, Eisa!

I’ll be back next week with more to share, but in the meantime, you can see my daily updates by following me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook

Rowena x