Every artist has heard of the importance of ‘the creative process.’ Simply put, the creative process is the combination of steps an artist takes to create their work. Many artists regard the creative process as something that’s almost sacred because of its massive influence on the work an artist creates. The creative process is incredibly unique and personal to each artist, and I have found this to be especially true for choreographers. Some choreographers are completely rigid on their process, and others change their process entirely from piece to piece. Whatever their creative process is, artists can agree that understanding your own creative process in imperative to creating high quality art. So, how can you develop your creative process?
Developing your creative process is all about finding the way you work best. It’s about finding what makes you the most focused, the most efficient, the most creative, the best at solving problems, etc. Keeping that in the forefront of your mind, I’ve broken down the choreography creative process into 4 key elements. Everyone’s process is going to be unique, but these are the 4 things that I believe you will encounter in your creative process no matter who you are. Let’s dive in.
Where does your inspiration come from? What types of activities get your juices flowing? If you’re having trouble answering these questions, check out this blog post about planning your inspiration.
The goal is to have such a handle on your own inspiration that you can get into a creative mindset at ANY time. That means that ANY time you want to get to work and create, you can. I advocate for getting rid of rituals as a means to inspiration – it’s okay if you need a little stimulus (everyone does), but ultimately the more independent your creativity is, the more you can create.
This is a term used often in the video editing world. Essentially, workflow is the sequence of steps a piece goes through from start to finish. For a choreographer, some of the steps might be finding music, developing concept, hiring dancers, finding a location, choreographing movement, holding rehearsals, etc. Determining your best workflow means finding the order of steps that makes the most sense and allows you to work the most effectively and efficiently. Some things are non-negotiable: you can’t hold rehearsals until you’ve hired your dancers. But you could decide to choreograph the movement and then hire dancers to fit the style, or hire dancers first and then choreograph movement to suit them. No matter the workflow you decide on, my advice is to always start with your purpose and concept. To learn more about why I believe in starting with your purpose, read this blog post.
Where do you need to be to stay focused & productive? Do you need to be in a studio or can you do it in your living room? At what time of day are you most productive? For some people, a specific environment is a necessity, and for others it’s a slight preference. It’s helpful to know in what environment you perform best, but the ultimate goal is to be as independent as possible. This is a lot like inspiration in that the more control you have over your focus, the less important your environment will be, and the more independent you’ll be.
- SETTING IT
How do you remember choreography? How do you problem solve? Is it better for you to take video or to write it down? How much do you need to write down? This is an important step for both remembering what you create AND for communicating with any collaborators. I tend to use several different methods for setting the choreography: some that work better for me, and some that work better for my collaborators. For example, I take video because that’s the best way to communicate the movement to the videographer, but I also type out the choreography for quick reference in rehearsal or during filming.
The most important part of all of these elements is to find something that works for you and helps you create meaningful works of art. Your creative process will change over time as you grow and change as an artist: it may even change from piece to piece. Whether your process gets turned upside down or stays relatively the same, all that matters is that you are creating meaningful pieces of dance in a way that works for you.