Last night I was treated to seeing four renowned choreographers – Shen Wei, Doug Varone, Stephen Petronio, Ronald K. Brown – leave their comfort zones and perform as solo dancers.
These men are all leaders of their own dance companies. Shen is the youngest at 46, Doug and Stephen are both 58 and Ronald is 48. Yet, there they were on stage, stretching, jumping, sweating, dancing and breathing heavily, showcasing what they have trained others in over as many as 30 years.
After their performances the audience was treated to a 30 minute chat with the choreographers. I was engrossed in the discussions since I heard many contact points between their creative process as dancers and mine as a writer.
They said that they each decided in different ways to create unison of the body and mind, before and during a performance. I have felt that separation when I could not still my body to sit and write or other times when I sat to write while my mind wandered off. I had to simultaneously invite my mind to write and still my body to stay with the writing process.
They all noted that the difference between being a choreographer and a dancer were in the details. The choreographer provides the sketch and the dancer remembers the details of each motions to get the dance right. The dancer takes the choreographer’s instructions and criticisms to become better and spends long hours practicing alone. This reminded me of the many hours I spent alone, while writing, “Lead Your Team To Win”. I was both choreographer and dancer providing the sketch and the details for the movement. The manuscript was opened to reviewers, editors, and my mentor, each of whom made criticisms and offered suggestions that I had to consider and build into the manuscript to get to the finished product.
The choreographers shared their creative process. Inspiration may come from a piece of music and the dance forms around the music, until it – the dance – becomes more than the music that created it and sometimes the music has to be let go. At times, they watch the dancers practice and a certain movement feels right, then that movement becomes the start of a dance. Other times a dance is a feeling which generates a movement and creates other feelings which generates other movements until a dance is created.
I understand this, as “Lead Your team to Win”, originally focussed on creating a safe space within the office and morphed into a leadership book that uses the safe space as a tool. I had to relinquish some thoughts and examples that no longer fit with where the book was now heading.
It was wonderful to spend the night listening to masters of an art-form share their creative process and even better to see the similarities between theirs and mine.
What is your creative process? How do you bring the body and mind together to create as and when you want? How do you make your work better? How does your work change and how do you deal with the changes? I would love to hear about your experiences.