And… Refresh.

Published on 11th Dec, 2012

When teaching continuous dances classes, as opposed to open classes or workshops, I sometimes find that students (or I!!) slip into the slump at some point.  You know, this slump: the novelty has started to wear off, combinations/routines that were so shiny and new now feel a little like worn out slippers- you love them on some level, but don’t feel a thrill when you pop them on anymore.

In continuous classes, I create a new piece and once finished it is performed. Performed not once but at intervals across a 3-month or so period. Initially the piece is surrounded by the hype that goes with taking a holiday, starting a new job or redoing your room.   It is fresh, a little uncharted and makes you feel like you have a finger on your creative pulse. After an extended period (not forever just a couple of months) of focus on the piece most students are hanging to move onto the next new thing, just like people do everyday with i-toys, hairstyles and food phases.

I got to thinking, it’s so easy and DONE these days to move very quickly from one thing to the next always looking for a new rush of adrenalin or blast of clean, previously untasted air. There’s so much on offer, it’s all sensational, available online and 24/7.  Too easy really and what are we missing?

The need or habit of bouncing at lightning speed from one thing to the next necessarily means that you can only get so much depth and not all that much a lot of the time to be honest.  Sometimes the grittiest stuff, often uncomfortable to get stuck into, but the greatest sense of accomplishment or completion comes after a little time in those slippers.  There’s history and, no doubt, there are stories to unravel but most importantly there’s more of you in those comfy slippers than the next new pair, why the hurry?

So in pondering over this I wandered off to my very first Bikram Yoga class.  I turned purple {the colour that comes after red apparently).  Once I remembered to breathe I became a little fascinated at how people love to return again and again to a class that offers the same 26 postures in the same order each class.  I was also interested to note that I couldn’t wait to go back for another class.  This surprised me, as a creative ‘dancer’ type I have long been aware that I love creating and creating for me means new impulses, new ideas, new music, new feeling, shapes, extensions and directions. A WHOLE LOTTA NEW.  Hence why I was so taken aback that I was so up for returning to a class based on repeated postures.

Right about the time I realized that my own yearning for newness in the form of creating choreography wasn’t helping my classes to deal with working for extended periods on one particular work, something else began to dawn on me… I now say to my classes, the wonderful thing about performing pieces again and again is that you get to find something new in them each time. Each time you take the stage or rehearse in class the invitation is to feel a new expression, find an edge, discover something different about yourself as a dancer (or human being) or even just extend your hand like never before. We can play and grow WITHIN the piece. In fact the newness and the capacity for freshness is IN US. Imagine it’s the first or last time you’ll perform and see how your energy shifts.

It remains at once both breathtaking and important to begin anew and, in the case of my classes, learn new choreography – don’t stay still so long that you develop a fear of moving.  What is key is not to dismiss the gain to be had from REnewing yourself within what you have already and finding the new experience in something you thought you had nailed down from every angle. Be open to seeing, feeling and finding more than what you first thought.  To do this you have to be willing to perhaps repeat yourself, the process or the dance routine.  And then be open to doing it again…

When I have trouble with wireless connectivity sitting at my laptop and am unable to load a site in which I am interested, I note that the done thing is to hit REFRESH. Huh, who knew (pardon the pun)… same page but refreshed.

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