Creative ebb and flow

Something I’ve been ponderering a lot recently is the ebb and flow of my creative energy.

As you can probably guess, this means I’m in an ‘ebb’ phase: I do more pondering when I’m not busy flowing…

There’s several aspects of my ebb I am pondering:

  • why I am ‘ebbing’?
  • how do I flow again?
  • how do I cope in the meanwhile?
  • is the ebb a necessary part of the flow?

The ‘why’ of the ebb is in itself a complex matter with multiple reasons:

  • I had a fabulous time at my first MEDANZ festival in April, but may have a touch of ‘post-festival-itis’ (it is a testimony to the fabulousness of the festival that it took nearly two months for this to start 🙂  My thanks to all the wonderful teachers and dancers there)
  • The season here is late autumn: greyer days, cooling temperatures, earlier nightfall and the urge to prepare for hibernation
  • My non-dance work is fairly routine at the moment
  • I’m not teaching a night class this term, so don’t have that weekly source of inspiration

As to how I flow again, I’m sure the answer is at least as multi-faceted:

  • first up, rest: allow myself the chance to wind down and ponder. Then,
  • re-inspire: search out the music and dancers and whatever that inspires me and gets me moving, which will require
  • discipline: to practice when I don’t feel like starting, to seek out inspiration when I don’t feel like starting, to get out of bed and get moving when I don’t feel like starting (you get the picture)

Meanwhile, I continue to move and dance, just not in a formal-disciplined-practice way. I still play music. I still find myself grooving to the beats on the stereo or in my head.  The dance is still alive within me; which is a huge comfort.

Meanwhile, I engage with other activities that feed, restore and comfort my soul.  These are at the ‘pottering ‘ level, rather than the ‘go-get-em’ level – the ‘comfort food’ of my activities.  So, I am knitting a simple shawl for a friend, crocheting simple blankets for my sons, tending my garden…

Meanwhile, I am exploring concepts of ‘chi’ and ‘feng shui’ to see if and how I can improve the energy flows in my life; which mainly seems to involve de-cluttering my house and life (an ongoing process you are welcome to read more about on my other blog), and ensuring a healthy balance in diet, exercise and sleep.

And I am coming to the conclusion that the ebb IS a necessary part of the flow:

  • flowing with bright, strong creativity is a precious thing, but not something I can sustain all the time without burning myself out
  • taking time to ponder and rest is a precious thing, but not something I can sustain all the time without turning myself too far in

After all, the tide must go out before it can flow in again…

Exciting times

I’m excited.

Tomorrow is hafla night for my dance club.

We have two other troupes coming as well as some solo spots (and hopefully some musicians!)

I’m going to spend from 4 pm tomorrow turning the kindergarten we meet at into an ‘exotic locale’ worthy of hosting lovely dancers (it ain’t completely easy, but my sari collection helps).

This week I have taught two classes and run a dress rehearsal for the club, and done my own practice (I’d like to say “of course”, but that wouldn’t be quite accurate…).

A small voice inside keeps trying to say that I should be all danced out by now, with nothing left for tomorrow night.

But…

it’s wrong

I’m finding it hard to believe how much energy I have at the end of this busy week (there was busy times at work and whiny angsty kids at home as well) and I’m putting it all down to my dancing.

I do feel a bit tired, but there’s a solid core of energy left in me – which I find very exciting.  It’s certainly not something I’m accustomed to.  It is something I’d like to get used to.  And I have noticed it starting to flow though into other things (like being able to cope with those whiny kids).

I am delighted that the small voice is so wrong.

It gives me confidence that I have made good choices in letting my passion for belly dance take over my life.

It gives me hope that I can keep on doing this for a loooong time.

It gives me courage to dig deeper and enrich my dance.

I cannot recall ever feeling so happy or so much myself.

It’s cool.

I love it!

And…

…I am going to keep on dancing 🙂

To ponder

There is a form of creativity that reaches for the stars and is sunny and bright,

but there is another kind, just as fruitful, that is dark and deep,

more hidden than visible,

motivated sometimes by anger and envy.

This deep source of the creative spirit is difficult to express in our world

because we have difficulty appreciating the positive qualities of the dark emotions.

But they give a person depth,

strength of character,

and an earthy honesty

and counter any tendency towards the sentimental and naive.

from Thomas Moore’s A Life at Work (2008, p91)

Realisations

It’s been awhile since I posted here for a variety of reasons, the most basic one being finding something meaningful and dance related that I felt up to writing about.

But as I just announced on my other blog, I have realised that meaningful is not necessarily the same as lengthy.

In many ways I’ve been using a narrow definition of “worthy blogging activity” to justify my absence from blogging.  And with this realisation, I no longer have my excuse!

And in a further realisation, I have been doing exactly the same thing with my dance: that is, using narrow definitions of “worthy dance activity” to justify my lack of dancing.  I have to wonder why I feel the need for this justification – what am I hiding from?

The answer is quite personal and also quite painful:

I am scared of not being the dancer I want to be.

I could write screeds about how that works out day-to-day, but screeds won’t change that basic, fundamental truth, so I’m not going to write them today.

The crazy thing is that, by blocking my desire to dance, my fear becomes reality.  I can’t be the dancer I want to be, the dancer I already am, if I don’t dance.

So, I am going to go and dance now – even a few moments is worthy of my doing.

Body image, emotion and dance

Recently I strained a tendon in my foot and need to see a physiotherapist.

I was lucky enough to find someone who practises holistic physiotherapy – muscle activation, treating fascial tissue and so on.  In other words, a physio who wants to get to the root cause of the injury, beyond the surface symptoms.

As a result of her work, my body is working better than it has in years, better than I ever thought it could.  I now have calf and hamstring flexibility, I can stretch further, my spine is better aligned, my shoulders looser and more.  As a result, my shimmies are sharper, my shoulder rotations more serpentine and my undulations stronger.

As well as the physical effects I am enjoying, there have also been psychological effects which I hadn’t anticipated.  The main one of these has been the need to completely re-write my own definitions of my body.  For years, I have talked down my dancing as ‘my body wasn’t flexible enough’, ‘I was physically incapable of dancing any better than average’, ‘tight hamstrings ran in the family’ and there was little I could do to improve the situation despite my best efforts.  Now I’ve found that’s not true.

I’ve found instead that what’s true is that my body stretches just fine when my calf and hamstring muscles are working properly.  My shimmies work well when my gluts are awake.  My rib circles are sharper and faster when my shoulders and chest are open.  My stamina is greater when my muscles all work together.  My body is, in fact, capable of dancing well, and of improving its skills to dance even better.

One particular area of dance performance I had always had  issues with was expressing emotion through dance.  However, with the freeing of my body and the re-writing of my mind, I am finding it so much easier to draw on the deep recesses of my soul and let them into my dance*.  I feel so much less limited in the range and strength of emotions I can dance.  I am very much looking forward to seeing how this translates into my performance.

*My thanks here, also, to Asharah, the Bellydance Paladin, for her thought-provoking posts about emotion and dance, which have helped me dig even deeper.

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