Being an artist is fun, fulfilling, so wonderful – but it can also be terrifying.
To be creative requires for you to be vulnerable. You’re basically showcasing your deepest thoughts and feelings in the process of making something beautiful.
So how do you get over your insecurity, self-doubt, and inhibition as an artist?
Whether it’s biting the bullet and auditioning for your dream team, or tackling the first 8-count of choreography to that song you’ve been playing on repeat, or exploring a style outside of your comfort zone…
We all need a dose of ‘Courage’ sometimes.
(See Related Article: Dear STEEZY, Where Do You Begin When Choreographing A Piece?)
For all those seeking to lead a life full of more wonder and inspiration, you have to understand how to manage your fear.
Big Magic, the newest novel by the globally revered author Elizabeth Gilbert (recognize the name? She also wrote a little thing called Eat Pray Love), explores the creative process, demystifying it while embracing the magic in it – all at once.
We found it relatable to you hungry dancers with endless potential.
Dancers who still need reminders to be brave, during moments of struggle.
So, are you ready to shed that weight and be artistically liberated?
Read on, and be transformed by the power of “Big Magic.”
Separate YOU From Your Dancing
You gotta love what you do, of course.
But you cannot let yourself become it.
Tying so much of your identity and self-esteem to your craft can have so many adverse effects.
“It’s a subtle but important distinction (being vs. having) and, a wise psychological construct. The idea of an external genius helps to keep the artist’s ego in check, distancing him somewhat from the burden of taking either full credit or full blame for the outcome of his work. Protecting from the corrupting influence of praise, and from the corrosive effects of shame.”
So how do we separate ourselves from our dancing?
“Ideas are a disembodied, energetic life-form. They are completely separate from us, but capable of interacting with us – albeit strangely… Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest… through collaboration with a human partner. It is only through a human’s efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual.”
The concepts that create movement are yours to play with!
Teach A Lesson Through Modeling It
The best instructors and choreographers talk the talk, and dance the dance.
The most effective way to spread the passion for dance is to just love it so much that others cannot miss it.
There is a professor Gilbert speaks of; about how life-changing and amazing he was by virtue of simply loving what he did.
“He seemed to live in a state of uninterrupted marvel, and he encouraged them to do the same. He didn’t so much teach them how to write poetry, they said, but why: because of delight. because of stubborn gladness.”
(See Related Article: How To Lead Your Dance Team More Effectively)
You Can Be Happy With Your Dancing
Dancers, especially “freelance” dancers (or just those who are perfectionistic to a fault) are destroying themselves and their motivation to even be a dancer, by becoming the “Tormented Artist.”
You didn’t make that team?
You didn’t get “select group”?
You’re not making enough money as a dancer?
You’re internalizing critiques and taking YouTube comments to heart?
(Related Article: How To Cope With Not Making Your “Dream” Dance Team)
Enjoy it, instead.
“You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.”
(See Related Article: How To Positively Contribute To The Dance Community)
When Sh*t Happens.
You WILL encounter struggle.
Bad class days.
Countless heartbreaking disppointments.
Big Magic’s advice on how to deal?
“Grieve if you must, but grieve efficiently.”
Share Your Ideas With Other Dancers
If someone choreographs to the same song, or has your “signature” move in their piece, whatever makes you feel territorial over anything –
“People convince themselves that they have been robbed, when they have not, in fact, been robbed. Such thinking comes from a wretched allegiance to the notion of scarcity… Somebody else got mine.”
The world is abundant, of thoughts, ideas, infinite creations ready to be manifested.
Let others make, and let yourself make more!
I mean, art is free, art is for all.
Choreograph, Make, And Share – Just Because
YouTube is great; it gives dancers exposure that they have personal control over.
But a number of us are guilty of getting too wrapped up in the effects of sharing, that we forget to indulge in the beauty of it, in its own right.
Don’t ever forget,
“The quiet glory of merely making things, and then sharing those things with an open heart and no expectations… Because in the end, creativity is a gift to the creator, not just a gift to the audience.”
So forget the Instagram likes, whatever to the YouTube view count.
You made it. You put it out there. You get a cookie.
(See Related Article: How YouTube Gives Artists The Freedom To Showcase Their Work)
There’s No Such Thing As “Not Creative”
A trademark excuse out of trying anything is that it doesn’t come naturally to you – “I wasn’t born with it.”
Well, guess what?! That excuse won’t fly when comes to creativity.
“To even call somebody “a creative person” is almost laughably redundant; creativity is the hallmark of our species. We have the senses for it; we have the curiosity for it; we have the opposable thumbs for it; we have the rhythm for it; we have the language and the excitement and the innate connection to divinity for it. If you’re alive, you’re a creative person.”
You DO have it in you.
(See Related Video: How To Never Get Choreo Block)
Pay No Heed To Haters
All dancers deal with enough self-questioning on their own.
If/when others is open doubt you, or are straight up hatin’… You should
“never delude yourself into believing that you require someone else’s blessing (or even their comprehension), in order to make your own creative work.”
Like pfffft. Who even asked you? Go away!
Dance With Your Heart
When Gilbert wrote international best-seller and major motion picture Eat Pray Love,
“…I figured people might mock it for being so terribly earnest, But I wrote that book anyhow, because I needed to write it for my own intimate purposes – and also because I was curious to see if I could convey my emotional experiences adequately on paper. It never occurred to me that my own thoughts and feelings might intersect so intensely with the thoughts an feelings of so many other people.”
When someone creates a piece in their car 1 hour before class or choreo day, it’s apparent.
When someone creates a piece that means something to them, that you can tell comes from a place of truth, of vulnerability… That’s even more apparent.
The most refreshing, touching, and impressive works of art are not the ones that are necessarily from the biggest, most famous choreographers.
The best works are the ones that speak to the soul, and resonate with the viewer.
My heart will see your heart, and that connection… That’s art.
Don’t Make Dance Pay The Bills
For years and years, Gilbert worked as a waitress.
She says that she has always asked writing to be there for her, but never to sustain her.
You can “kill off your creativity by holding it to such a harsh ultimatum.”
“their creativity matters to them enough that they are willing to make all kinds of extra sacrifices for it.”
Especially if you’re just starting out on your dance path, it’s unrealistic to expect your work to have immediate monetary value.
Do it just cuz, and chase it with passion.
Just don’t quit your day job (yet).
(See Related Article: Marketing Resources To Help Dancers Get More “Out There”)
Get Lost In The Flow
Flow. One of the best feelings in the world. Personally, it’s what I chase.
It’s what keeps me writing. It’s what makes everything worth it. That feeling.
The experience is worth all the toil, whatever the product.
“By completely absorbing our attention for a short and magical spell, it can relieve us temporarily from the dreadful burden of being who we are. Best of all, at the end of your creative adventure, you have a souvenir – something that you made, something to remind you forever of your brief but transformative encounter with inspiration.”
“Eudaimonia” is a Greek word that refers to the highest level of happiness and contentment one can experience.
Living a life of virtue, of health, of empathy – these are all related concepts; as is flow.
Creative flow is a necessary component to living prosperously.
It’s that feeling when you’re choreographing and the piece just seem to come to you, naturally, and moving just feels sooo good.
You should go indulge in it.
See Related Article: Why It’s More Important For Dance To FEEL Good, Than Look Good
Take Your Dancing Seriously… But Not Too Seriously
Sometimes, dance gets competitive, people get power hungry, choreography becomes frustrating, the blocking doesn’t turn out the way you envisioned.
But remind yourself… it’s just dance.
“Do what you love to do, and do it with both seriousness and lightness.”
Despite whatever, “when it’s for love, you will always do it anyhow.”
We love dancing. It’s freaking fun. And that’s that.
Don’t Forget Your Purpose In Dance
Why all this fuss at all? Why do we do what we do? Why do we insist on pursuing it so fiercely, endlessly?
“You have treasures hidden within you – extraordinary treasures – and so do I, and so does everyone around us. And bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think so small.”
It’s almost a prompt given to us by life, to bring these treasures out of the ether and into our world.
Unrealized potential is one of the greatest tragedies!
Don’t let your dance life slip by without having contributed as much art and beauty as you possibly could have.
See Related Article: Why I’m Thankful To Be A Dancer
Reading Big Magic was such a freeing experience.
It’s nice to know that other creatives have similar struggles, and nicer to know that there is a more optimistic, wonder-ful way of looking at it.
Hope this served to assuage some of your fear, and light a fire in your curiosity!
Now go! Make magic. And share it with the world.
What books have you learned or have been inspired from as a dancer? Comment below to share with us!
Inspired and ready to tackle any class? Try out one of many offered at STEEZY Studio!
This article was originally published on February 7, 2015.