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…

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A quick round-up of the last few months – oops!

Sorry, folks.  I didn’t mean to let so much time pass without posting…

Here’s what’s been happening in my dance world since I last posted:

The Supper Club hafla back in November was a success (some photos are here).  I was proud of my dancers – one performed her first solo, another her first taqsim as an intro to our group dance (which also went well).  I was super-pleased with my own solo – definitely a case of hard work (both physical and emotional) paying off.  And, as a bonus, no one seemed to notice that I nearly lost my balance during my dramatic entrance!

The Supper Club is back in action again for 2012.  My community education night class starts next week.  Life is getting back to normal!

As for me – I’m preparing to head to my first MEDANZ festival in April.  My flights and accommodation are sorted (yay!), now I just need to book for the workshops – oh, and improve my fitness, stamina and general dancing enough to cope with 6 hour dance days!  I’m very excited about going 🙂

I’m also continuing to work on my broader Middle Eastern music and dance knowledge: several of the workshops I want to take at the Festival are about aspects of folkloric dance or music.  For Christmas, I bought myself this album (I ❤ iTunes vouchers!), which I’m hoping will help me  understand more about the melodies of Arabic music.  I also have good intentions of  improving my knowledge of different rhythms. And, of course, my Amazon cart is filling up with tempting delicacies – some of which may actually get bought this year! (Suggestions for inclusion most welcome!)

As always, I’m endeavouring to lift my dancing game and my teaching game up another notch or six.  To do this I’m always looking for new resources – so, a couple of questions:

  • What are your favourite, or most useful, resources?
  • What helps inspire and encourage you to stretch your dancing or teaching a little further?

Any answers and reviews welcome – just add to the Comments 🙂

Mission statements

The highly observant amongst you may have noticed a small tweak to the header at the top of the page.

Over the past weeks, I have been doing a lot of hard work on personal stuff like aesthetic preferences.  This has been an interesting voyage of self-discovery which has by no means come to an end.  After all, I’m not dead yet!  I will be writing more about how this affects my dance/life another time.

This has lead to a few significant realisations and subsequent adjustments to my life planning.  One of these has been the appearance of a sort of ‘mission statement’ for my dance related activities.  I can’t say I worked specifically on this, but it did pop up when I was looking for a descriptive phrase to describe my approach:

Opulence in motion

Now I’d be the first to admit that this is still at the aspirational phase!   However, I take heart in the thought that this is something I can consciously seek to embody in my dance.  Having uncovered this phrase, I’m now looking to things like my costume choices and even my movement vocabulary to see how I can dance this idea to my fullest ability – feedback on how I’m doing would be most welcome, please 🙂

I am a newcomer to this whole focus phrase/mission statement business, and I will be interested to see how it affects me and my dance over time.  I’m hoping that it will be a help!  I have already noticed a few subtles changes: I’m watching more Golden Age and Oriental dance on YouTube, and my costuming choices are getting richer and more detailed (sumptuousness is a good thing – right?!).

So, here’s a question: do you have a ‘mission statement’ for your dance?  If you do, how does it help you?  And can it be a hindrance, too?

* * *

Coming soon (yes, really!): my review of Tanya Bamford-King‘s “Dancing the Drum” workshop in Wellington

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.

The first post…

… in which I explain why I am writing this blog.

I am a dancer.

I am a belly dancer.

I dance for self expression, for exercise, to heal my soul, for all sorts of reasons, but most of all because I love it.

This blog is a journey of exploration about what dance is, what it means to me and the roles it plays in my life.  I am also curious about how this plays out on the wider social stage: why do we dance? what roles does dance play in our society? in other societies? and on…

My focus will be mainly on belly dance/Middle Eastern Dance/raqs sharqi, as this is my dance style, experience and vocabulary.  However, I will do my best to be inclusive.  There will be tangents and side journeys.

Please join with me as I explore – your comments are welcome.

 

 

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