Simon Sineks “Start with Why”, is a text I read a while back, but it has been popping up everywhere this week so I thought I’d use it as a frame for this post. The book itself, although targeted at business minded professionals, was a rich read that has massively impacted my thinking in dance making. The simple question of asking why I do what I do is a straight forward tool that can be applied to any part of the creative process. I have found it most helpful throughout the pre studio research and the editing phase of the work.
To compact a key point, as Sinek moved through his research, he was met with a profound realisation that is now referred to as the golden circle. He poses that powerful organisations like Apple and Walmart are successful not only because they know what they do and how they do it, but because they know why.
The keys to each layer of the golden circle – What? How? Why?
If I asked you what your work is about, you could probably answer with great fluidity and enthusiasm.
If I asked you how you make your work, you might offer some lengthy discussion about your creative methods and who peer reviewed your work.
If I were to ask you why you make your work, you might respond with a much shorter answer, something along the lines of “I want to make people laugh” or “I want to share my story”. That’s great, but why? Why do you want to make people laugh? What is so important about your story? Why do you express your ideas through your body? Why do you want to share with live audiences? Why should they listen to you? And so on… I’ll talk about my why in depth in a later post.
I first saw an extract of Bost-Uni Blues at Physical Fest Scratch Night, where I was performing alongside Ugly Bucket Theatre. Their work, centred on the untouched topic of post-graduate depression, was relevant to my experience of completing undergraduate studies. In fact, it was pertinent to the post-blue I have felt after many other achievements too, both personal and professional. What hit me most, as I was immersed in the exaggerated physicality of the work, was the reminder that what goes up must come down. From this, I question that if I don’t ever come down from the high of one achievement, would I even bother committing to a new goal? Or does the negative spiral act as a driving force for me to search for new meaning and more success? This is a loop that I have dealt with a lot and through this, I have learned to listen to the low and hear what it is telling me. If it tells me that I’m a failure, I ask WHY. The Why offers me a brand new process, a void that begins to fill with more questions that revolve around my current self. Repeat. Repeat – Infinitum.
If you enjoy verbatim style physical theatre and are about to graduate, go see this hilarious show. It might save you a few months’ worth of negative and lonely thinking.
Complimentary to my research into pole dance, something else I’m curious about right now is how and why women are activated by high heels. So far and in short, I’ve concluded extrinsic motivation due to how the cosmetic value of the shoe can offer visually increased femininity, sexuality and an appearance of empowerment. However, as the heels get higher, and the aesthetic of the footwear begins to resemble a weapon, instead of a shoe, I believe it goes much deeper. A valid starting point to centre some further enquiry is why are we going through pain to wear shoes or boots that are not even designed for walking? For instance, the description of the boots in picture states “due to their extreme heel height, this collection is not meant for walking or dancing in. They are for use in a sitting or lying position.” Whist this has given me massive choreographic stimulation, I also have to consider why the extra two inches of heel height, superior to my current 8 inches, is so attractive. What is it about the physical challenge of wearing extreme shoes? Why are feminist scholars only concerned with notions of power and male gaze, instead of questioning the physical sensations that occur to the wearer?
Definitely much to think about.
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