A second group of reflections on belly-dancing, creativity and writing.
(See last week for the original chorus line.)
It wasn’t only the spirit of the dance that gave rise to analogies for me. The practical skills prompted even more thoughts.
Hannah talked about pacing. About how we interpret the music – but not always in an obvious and direct beat-for-beat way. Sometimes we respond to a counter-melody, or use an underlying rhythm, to give a deeper texture to our moves.
The same goes for any art. In writing, we may largely focus on our central character’s story line, but we can bring in another point of view, or pay attention to the setting to bring more life to the work.
And on a small scale, think of a paragraph. In our dance, we had a sequence of fast spins followed by a slow, elegant arm-raise. It gave a moment of reflection, time to consider. A scene, a sentence or a paragraph can have that form too – movement driven by emotion that ends in thought.
I do hope this is more self-awareness than ego, but I believe I got so much out of the workshop because I let myself be vulnerable. I was nervous. Probably the oldest, definitely the fattest there, but quite game without (mostly) using humour for armour. I took it seriously.
If there’s one thing I want to share with you, it’s the importance of intention, the spirit of the thing, if you will. We were each working to the same choreography, yet Hannah (as all the best teachers do) urged us to accept that we would all express it differently. Think of a basic plot – twenty writers would create twenty different tales from that idea.
Your intention, the truthful spirit at the centre of your work, is water flowing into a shape. It needs structure to be beautiful (or you get a bog) but forcing a fellside beck down a concrete culvert is more engineering than art. Let it flow.
Of course, we need skills and techniques; of course, we can learn by imitation of others, but all those drills and methods are excellent servants – and bad masters. It’s the spirit that gives life – and that comes from your own vulnerable core.
Trust your heart, and trust your story.
from Neil Gaiman’s ‘Instructions’
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