Tip Jar

 Nine Action Points for Jumpstarting Your Art

The Ripening Suite_small

Evalina “Wally” Carbonell is a powerhouse of a dancer and choreographer. Although she performs most often as a member of Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers, I have come to know her better through her own work; a homogenized blend of technical dynamism and deep, rich sensitivity. She’s also one of the weirder people I’ve met during my time in the Philadelphia dance scene, often conversing with rapt fanaticism and prone to fierce hotheadedness. (One of my favorite rants of hers was a tirade against a male dance critic who called her work “quirky,” damning it as the equivalent of a cute pat on the head for female artists.) Wally has a beautiful artistic mind and a beautiful explosiveness to her thoughts, and I was eager for her to have a platform with which to share them.

-Kat Sullivan, curator

1) Transform instinct into intention.
In dance, we are constantly in touch with our inherent physical instincts. Additionally, we are tasked with expressing ourselves in a way that is poignant and affecting. Society tells us that while children move and create from an instinctual place, “mature adults” learn to make conscious, informed choices. As mature artists, we must combine these capacities. We must stay in touch with our animal instincts and, at the same time, be capable of identifying and honoring the intention that is revealed through the creation of each dance.

2) Explore the opposites.
Our understanding of the world relies on contrast. We can only appreciate good through exposure to evil. As dance artists, we can create the most effective art not only by defining the subject matter, but also by identifying the things that subject does not illuminate. In order to elicit an emotional and physical response from a viewer, the dance must be visible; for maximum visibility, contrast is required.

3) Converse with your work.
Through the creation process, we give birth to another entity. While the dance stems from us, it is also a force distinct from us. A painting is made by the painter, but it is not “the painter”; however, a dance is intertwined with “the dancer” since it is both made and transmitted through the human body. The choreographic process is a conversation between the creator and/or dancer and the dance. We must allow the dance to speak to us, and not only inflict ourselves upon it.

4) Shock your process.
While we may choose to focus on one idea for several dances, they are not all the same dance. Each creation has a beginning and an end. In order to continue growing, we must continue to create new, distinct works. Breaking our creative habits can be challenging. One effective way to shock the process is to alter the timeline for creative incubation. By challenging ourselves to create work more quickly, or over a longer time period, than is our habit, we discover new sides of ourselves in the process. Through experiencing this “shock,” we may be inspired to explore other ways of altering the incubation process, thus developing works which may not otherwise have come to fruition.

5) Distill, expound, repeat.
In the creative process, ideas often flood the creator. At other times, the creator becomes fixated on one movement. When stuck in a creative lurch, this simple mantra, “distill, expound, repeat,” can give us the appropriate push. Identifying on which end of the spectrum we exist at a given moment will make it clear which verb we are to follow. If an idea seems too scattered, we must distill. If it is more mysterious than we had in mind or we crave more of the same, we must expound. Then, we repeat until it feels complete. Of course we may not always need all three words, and we can always mix up the order to suit the situation.

6) Be a sponge and a faucet.
Creativity requires an open mind. As dance artists, we must be both student and teacher, cultivating both the ego and a sense of humbleness. We must give and receive, constantly and actively.

7) Put it in your pocket.
Artists require tools. As dancers, we have space, time, the physical body, the emotional body, and the energetic body. We also have a whole world of influences and a lifetime of experiences with which to fill our pockets. By consciously collecting ideas, images, sensations, and rhythms, we percolate an endless supply of creative juice.

8) Styling is everything.
Dance is a complete sensory experience. A painting may be beautiful, but poor lighting, framing, and atmosphere can undeniably detract from its full potential glory. Dance is no different. We must strive to allow each presentation to fulfill its potential. This is not purely about budget. It is about taste, creative problem solving, and honesty with ourselves and our collaborators.

9) Work.
No excuses.

Photo credit: The Ripening Suite, choreography by Evalina “Wally” Carbonell, photo by Bill Hebert.

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