Sunday, November 6, 2011

Creativity out of Chaos

The Censor is part of our leftover survival brain. It was the part in charge of deciding whether it was safe for us to leave the forest and go out into the meadow. Our Censor scans our creative meadow for any dangerous beasties. Any original thought can look pretty dangerous to our Censor.

The only sentences/paintings/sculptures/photographs it likes are the ones that it has seen many times before. Safe sentences. Safe paintings. Not exploratory blurts, squiggles, or jottings. Listen to your Censor and it will tell you that everything original is wrong/dangerous/rotten.

Who wouldn't be blocked if every time you tiptoed into the open somebody (your Censor) made fun of you? The morning pages will teach you to stop listening to that ridicule. They will allow you to detach from your negative Censor.

-- Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way

I totally miffed it last night. When the world goes to chaos, it's time to just go with the creative energy. "Indian Outlaw" didn't go as planned. I could barely hear the music and it was well on its way before I could get in position on the floor.  The audience was fairly empty because everyone was in line to get food, and I started missing all my musical cues. Everything that could go wrong seemed to do so. All of my isolated mistakes from previous practice sessions seemed to all hit at once. I got confused at The Huntress and couldn't keep my balance in The Bow. I had to make up filler content on the spot to get back in sync. I just smiled and kept on going until I got backstage and beat myself up in my frustration.

But no one seemed to know about my mistakes. I was told, "I like your costume" and "That was a pretty dance." If I had done it right, I should have been feeding the energy to the audience and hearing "That was awesome."

I waited what seemed like forever for the clown I was to follow with my Shakira number. There were a lot of lulls between acts. The sound that seemed to be working was that coming from the live singers. Even the guitarist could barely be heard. And as much as I scanned the crowd, I could find no clown.

I danced by the silent auction table to the singers on stage, reminding myself very sternly that I do this for fun. It served as the warmup I needed, the one I missed just trying to get to the church in time to do  an equipment check before the auction began.

Then the drumming circle took the floor, but only right after I was asked if I wanted to go ahead and perform my next piece. I knew their improvisational rhythms were great--so I asked if I could dance with them. They indicated the space Deborah had cleared out earlier for my dance in front of the drums and I stood just outside the last drum on stage left until I could mimic the first beats with my body. I made my body a visual drum, trying to anticipate the next beat, shimmying, bumping and turning to the audience, dancing to them. I picked out groups of faces in the well lit audience and smiled my ecstatic pleasure at them as I let the energy course through my muscles.  

When I had started, the audience was half-packed. When the song was over, it was standing room only. Women in the back were dancing along, someone was clapping out the beat, ululations were very clear, and after a very long grueling of channeling the creative energy, the last beat was struck.

I figured I just barely had time to rest before my next routine if I bowed out immediately. I also thought that I had borrowed enough of the spotlight from the drumming troupe. As I stepped away from the floor into the audience, someone yelled, "Encore!," and it was clear the audience would not allow me to stray without another round. Not sure if I could repeat, I released myself to the gathering beat.

My improvisational ecstatic dance was light-years ahead of my choreographed routine. The frenzy was awesome, but I was starting to feel the sweat, loss of breath, and aching muscles threatening to overwhelm me. It was clear I was done for the evening.

Belly dancing takes a tremendous amount of energy. This was the first time I had ever performed more than one routine in public, and I did three! Not the two I expected, but still...This time I was approached by so many more people and started hearing my favorite phrases: "That was awesome!," "I know how difficult that is," and "How long have you been doing this?"

And there's the rub, the reason I shouldn't be beating myself up. It's been only four months since I started taking serious lessons. In that time, I've lost track of the number of performances I've done, as well as being admitted to a dancing troupe, and encouraged to keep performing! What has seemed like forever to me has in reality been a very short time. I just had major surgery almost 6 months ago!

Of course, I think I've hit my maximum amateur audience size. I can't think of any events I could appear at that would host more that 200 people, except maybe the pride festival next June. Joni has already reserved the space and is expecting me to dance. I will definitely want to dance with a live band playing.

Next weekend, I am performing at the Gender Conference After Party. I've got my workout practice cut out for me. I can't wait to share all this with my private instructor tomorrow. Wait until I tell her someone videotaped my performance and is emailing me a copy.

Hugs and God Bless,
Sofia Featherwind

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