A MONTHLY FEUILLETON (PART 4: JANUARY)
By Agnieszka Ryszkiewicz
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Creativity is a "must" in contemporary dance practice. Flipping through the Harvard Business Review, it occurred to me that this must does not apply exclusively to the art world but rules the market in many fields.
In a short discussion with Diane Coutu, Twyla Tharp describes how the creative impulses that have driven her career are accessible to anyone - artists, business people, and all the rest. "The best creativity is the result of habit and hard work. And luck of course", states Tharp.
This is a dream chapter for opening my January column. Not entirely true though, cause I guess it is hard to imagine myself reading some newspapers during lunch break, or even better while stretching in the evening J.
The whole story with creativity came up, when we (10 young artists following the ESSAIS program at the CNDC in Angers, in case You would have just discovered this site and hadn't had time to catch up with my previous entries), well, when we were asked by the Pompidou Centre to interact with their collection in the framework of jeudi's (could make a footnote about the jeudi's but you may as well just google the Centre).
The event was fixed for the beginning of March and we would have only two days of rehearsal in the space. As a regular thing, the jeudi's have already hosted Parts, E.x.e.r.ce and other dance programs, which were cherished by over 800 units of devoted public. We definitely and desperately needed to be creative and efficient.
Two days of the creasiest, most fantastic brainstorming I have ever taken part in followed. We wanted to swing down from Pompidou's roof on ropes, burst into the museum to the accompaniment of fake screams from underneath the forum (as if it were some damned souls) and drag the visitors into gas chambers (which obviously wouldn't be real, but empty rooms filled with artificial fog to underline the specific space of the museum). Eventually we would guide the visitors through the exhibition sliding naked in Klein's blue paint all along the never-ending halls on the 5th floor, while in parallel a turtle (race) would take place on the 4th one. The visitors would also be offered a haircut and massages but I couldn't understand where because while discussing the spacing, Cecilia was screaming on the telephone and B. kept turning everything upside down looking for her cigarettes like it was a matter of life and death.
Anyway the talking was great, slightly exhausting and very very long with a lot of breaks, coffee, food, cigarettes, telephones, stretching, people leaving every now and then, some private discussions and not only discussions going on the sides.
A cool Californian breeze was floating in the air.
Therefore I was surprised when on the third day nobody showed up anymore.
I called B. who didn't even bother to pick up. Sitting alone in front of the CNDC and making my nails I recalled a Japanese friend who once asked my help while working on a solo with Mascarpone cheese (actually a duo then). He told me "My inspiration was Mascarpone. So I thought a few months, but still didn't know how to bring it into a performance".
We do not have a few months! Our creativity needs to be productive.
This is where B. decided to act. She sent us all an email literally imposing a meeting on Friday evening and not at the "Bar du Centre" where we used to meet on Fridays, but in a dance studio. We were supposed to do a private research concerning our upcoming intervention in Beaubourg.
I have my own opinion about today's dance research. No matter what I'm working on, I always spend nights surfing on the Internet. In fact on Friday we met, each of us holding a few print-outs about the artists exhibited in the controversial "void retrospective" held at Pompidou, about passt dance interventions in galleries and other public spaces. Charles (the Swiss guy) presented Twyla Tharp's book "The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life" and B. appeared holding a booklet named "everybodystoolbox" (another fancy "e" word).[i]
We restarted with theoretical talk. I opted for recreating a show which happened two years before, entitled "Dionysiac". I simply loved the idea of galloping naked through the "holy" space of Georges Pompidou's museum, screaming and laughing.
"Real learning is not copying. That's the wrong word. Copying is taking somebody else's solutions. Learning is taking somebody else's problems." Charles quoted Tharp, as if he had learned her writings by heart. (Repeating is not creativity, I thought!)
"Let's find a way to bring some life inside those ossified walls", proposed Cecilia. She was referring to the fact that different floors of the museum where, at the beginning, intended to be mobile, so that they could be moved up and down according to the necessities of current exhibitions. Despite those innovative concepts the building has always stayed fixed. I googled it myself as well.
There was a pause; we all have brilliant ideas but how to bring them into motion, into our bodies, into act?
B. made this pretentious little cough of hers and proposed to introduce us to everybodystoolbox that she had been nervously crumpling for 1.5 hours now.
Instead of explaining here what the whole thing is about I would warmly recommend that You simply enter the website http://www.everybodystoolbox.net/ where you can actually taste it and not only get to know that "Everybodys is a data base and a library, a toolbox and a game creator, a publication house, a score container, a site for distribution and for long term investigatory discussions. It is a platform for the development of tools and content, for research and performance, for exchange and desire."
Do some research guys!
We played the generique.
We replayed it on Saturday.
This was a big step. Everybody was convinced that we would not talk anymore on Monday but start doing.
What? That was another question that we solved by the lucky arrival of our February coach Lia Rodrigues. "I am not a teacher", she argued, but I was so relieved that somebody older and more experienced could finally at least organize our schedules.
Next Monday, 9 a.m. I was there in the studio, all ready to be creative.
I was not the only one.
[i] See November if you didn't catch up with the past issues, naughty boys and girls!