“Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everybody I’ve ever known.”
-Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monster
This is a quote that comes up often for me. Is what I create original, or is it simply made up of everything I have been taught? Can I make something ‘mine’ when it was inspired by or discovered through someone or something else? How much do we blur the line between what inspired the work, and what is completely our own creation?
Aside from these questions, I am here to talk about my piece, MAGNET.
From November to January, I had created a bunch of puzzle pieces. These were all different ideas and movement phrases/tasks that I explored with the dancers. I then had to find a way to put all of the pieces together so that it looked like one picture. In doing this, I discovered that a few of the puzzle pieces seemed like they were from a different picture altogether. Once it was put together, it looked like more of a mismatched collage rather than a beautifully finished piece of art.
I really didn’t want to set any rules or restrictions for myself with this creation. I went into the process without having a plan, or knowing what the piece would end up being. This was the first piece I had created outside of school, so I had the freedom to create something knowing I wouldn’t have to audition it for a panel of teachers. I wanted to try everything and anything; I wouldn’t have to feel like I was rebelling against or conforming to someone else’s aesthetic. I was creating knowing that it was valuable without having a certain technique, and knowing that it was authentically me.
So, I ended up with a puzzle that maybe didn’t fit together quite right. I had so many ideas that I actually overwhelmed myself. There were so many things I wanted to try that it was more of a challenge to make something out of it. I attempted to switch where the pieces went, remove pieces or add new ones in. But after all the switching and manipulating, I decided to let it be. I started getting caught up in what other people would think of a piece that might not make any sense. I started thinking the way I thought in school: this isn’t good enough, there needs to be more, people need to like this.
Once I let go of that, I decided it was ok for the piece to not feel completely done. I have left room for it to grow. For this process, the time spent on what I was interested to try was more valuable than creating a piece that felt perfectly put together. I think it’s ok for an artist to paint a painting and feel like they maybe should have used oil on canvas for the portrait, instead of pastel on wood. But after all that is said, the things that take more risk, challenge you more, and set you outside of your comfort zone are things that end up being more original anyway. These are just thoughts on my own work, maybe others feel the same way.
I am still working on what MAGNET is/can be. At this stage in the process, it is some sort of video game/virtual world/game show, which honestly was not the original intention. It seems as though I have made something from nothing, but even though it was never initially about anything specific, it somehow turned into what it is now. I had the chance to develop the piece further for Dance Matters, and I realized that MAGNET is a world that has so many possibilities for me to explore.
I think as an emerging choreographer, or someone who is just starting to create , it’s nice to know that no one has expectations of your work quite yet. There is so much freedom in knowing the audience isn’t familiar with your work, or even knows who you are. One of my goals as a choreographer is to never be predictable. Another ,of course, is to strive for original work, and work that doesn’t always have to be about something specific. I still hope the audience can attach themselves to the ideas, and feel like they are apart of something. I hope to have created something original, but I suppose that is up to the audience to decide.
Check out more from Alias Dance Project here: http://www.
Photo of Irena Ponizova, Drew Berry, Krista Newey, and Miyeko Ferguson by Jessica Germano