I am fairly certain that most people would agree that evolution is rarely a conscious process. Particularly in art. We definitely try to push our limits, learn new things, and “grow”, but I think in art, as in life, “growth” and “evolution” are two different processes. The former is a shorter term experience, fairly easily quantified and observed both by yourself and others. The results are gross…less in the details. Evolution tends to be more subtle and over a much longer period of time. It is more about the essence of a thing.
I am finding that right now, I am becoming conscious of an evolution of my dance self (and without getting too deep, also some very personal parts of my being as well). Something in my core beliefs…my essence…is shifting. I have never “seen” this happen before. It was always something happening under the surface, beyond my notice, and over years. This evolution is occurring very swiftly–in the last 8-10 months–and in the front of my consciousness. I am finding myself taking notice of it, and making quite deliberate choices to facilitate it.
The thing with being a teacher is that you end up taking a lot of other people along on this evolutionary journey. I can’t just change on a whim, like some dancers might be able to, especially soloists–what freedom they have! Enviable! Instead, I have a heavy responsibility for consistency and clarity in my dance, which goes far beyond myself. So there is a fair amount of consideration and creative practice that I have to do on my own, and keep it separate and pure from my student experience, until I am certain it is something I want to really plow ahead with. That means I am spending about 7 hours a week using my mental and creative energy trying to keep things the “old way” (familiar way) while I what remains of my mental and creative energy trying to honor this evolution that is knock-knock-knocking on my being. I feel pulled two or more directions, and unable to fully commit myself to either because of uncertainty and this flowing feeling of “mustchangemustchangemustchange”.
I am not even sure I can articulate all the ways I want things to change. Luckily I have found some tools within myself this year to being able to communicate some *energetic* changes I wanted to see in my and my students’ dancing, and it was very effective. Now I want to keep it moving, and to change vocabulary to fit. Another “issue” is Renee (*waving*). My decisions are also not entirely my own in this regard. If I didn’t have a co-director, I would make sweeping changes right now based solely on my personal choices and considerations. But I have to run these ideas past Renee, and we sometimes (event often?) have very different approaches to such things. That in itself is a blessing and a curse–to be able to have another pair of critical eyes, but at the same time not being able to just “go” when my heart says “it’s time to change/alter/move”… I wouldn’t trade it for the world–we have an awesome partnership. With all the ups and downs, it is a beautiful thing in my life, my collaborations with Renee. But that is one of the challenges for me creatively–it is another restriction I have to work with. A somewhat externally imposed structure for me has been good so far–keeps me grounded–so I roll with it.
I am really looking forward to the General Skills Intensive. Frankly, a lot of my current evolutionary impulses are popping like popcorn when I look at FatChance. I have always been an admirer, but I am finding my personal aesthetics and creative desires are more in line with theirs all the time. Do I want to go pure ATS? Not in a million years. The total philosophy of the format is not in line with my spirit. But I would gladly adopt a direction more in line with their aesthetics, and have been slowly adding some bits and pieces in essence and in vocabulary throughout 2007 as a direct result of this personal evolution I have been experiencing. I am looking forward to Renee and I getting to explore the details of FC’s style together, in a true “intensive” where we get to examine the vocabulary up close, from the source. I am hoping that she will feel some of what I have been feeling about this format this year, and there will be some freedom to continue to incorporate some of that “look and feel” into our collective style. If not, then that part of my evolution will have to slow down a bit…for now…