Building a Foundation for Your Art

Building a Foundation for Your Art
January 10, 2017 Andrea Muhlbauer
foundation

Once you have an idea for a piece, it’s time to take the next step. Figuring out how to take this ‘thing,’ this idea, that only exists inside your own head and turn it into art is daunting. The best way to take the first step and ensure that your idea will be executed well is to build a strong foundation.

The first step in building a strong foundation for your piece is to take your original idea and develop it into your ‘purpose’ for your piece. The purpose takes your idea and grounds it into concept, story, and message, making it a more stable jumping off point. If you haven’t heard me talk about purpose before, learn more about developing a purpose for your piece in this article.

After crafting your idea into a more well-rounded purpose for your work, it’s time to take a look at what real-life, physical things are necessary to make your piece happen. As a choreographer, this means music, location, and dancers. For a visual artist this could be what techniques or materials you’ll use. It’s important to figure out what these necessities are early on. It’s doubtful that any of these physical elements of your piece are going to be exactly what you envision, and you’re probably going to have to figure out how to work around your limitations (unless you’re made of time and money).

As you’re looking through your options and thinking about which piece of music or location to choose, my advice is to actually write out things you notice about each option so you can make an informed decision rather than a gut reaction. Some suggestions are:

  • “Does the structure of the music fit the structure of my story?”
  • “Do the lyrics fit the message of my piece?”
  • “Does the atmosphere of the location fit the mood of the piece?”
  • “What is that atmosphere?”

After you’ve made your decision about your physical necessities, it’s time to develop the structure of your piece. I find that crafting structure early on in the process allows the artist to stay true to their purpose and stay on track. It’s much easier to create a cohesive work of art when there is already a skeleton in place.

The key here is to use all of your physical elements to your advantage when developing the structure of your piece. This allows all of the elements to work together in support of the piece. Personally, I like to start by breaking off a piece of music into sections and aligning it with my story. Then, I integrate other elements in – in what part of the venue is each section, how many dancers are in each section, etc. It’s up to you where to start – just make sure every element is involved at the end.

This may seem like a lot of work before you even start ‘doing anything real,’ but this process is going to make the actual creation (whether that’s choreographing the actual steps, writing the actual notes and lyrics, etc.) a walk in the park. You’ll know EXACTLY what your limitations are, what your goals are, and how to achieve them. Now THAT’S what I call a strong foundation.

Still looking for a good idea? Check out step 1 here.

Ready for the next step? Go on to Step 3 here.

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