Mastery for Beginners; WEEK 3

Creativity 101

This has been a remarkable week. It is truly a creative life. This weeks process report is dedicated to the creative people of the world. If the saying is true, and “you are who you surround yourself with”, then I must but be a creative genius. I am a summation of my community, and I am thankful for you!

What is creativity?

Some folks define it as simply being able to come up with something new while others add that it is the act of connecting different and seemingly unrelated ideas. Like say, using a spatula to scrape the ice off your car window. How creative! What about making a skirt out of tin cans that is also an instrument? How creative! I’m seeing connections here between those seemingly unrelated phenomena. What about the ability to perceive the word in new ways? Or to notice patterns and recognize the vast possibilities for alternate outcomes? I really like the idea of creative communication. What are ways we express our thoughts and feelings that aren’t just with words? 

There are many thoughts swirling around about career development, deliberate practice, the creative process, my creative friends, new ideas, clowning and my tap dance process to creative mastery. Each of these subjects deserves it’s own article to itself, but this week I am touching in with a little taste of each. Here is a peek into a creative week.

MONDAY

Monday’s are for Myrtles. We gather in the living room of the “nearly nahormal Nanaimo house” and we make music. There is usually at least one baby, and there are always a lot of laughs. This week, we worked on 2 new songs. Sisters written by Irving Berlin in 1954 and Doing the Jive, a 1938 song composed by Glenn Miller and pianist Chummy MacGregor. Our dear Uncle Archie (who is ACTUALLY award winning, platinum record making musician Steven Drake) helps me figure out interesting jazz chords for my baritone uke.

Here we have Bort (Paul Hendriks) on washtub, Uncle Archie on a tenor guitar, myself on Baritone Uke and that there is Gladys (Kat Single-Dain) and Edna (Nayana Fielkov) dancing together with that wonderful sunshine streaming through the windows. We live in Vancouver BC, and being January, it’s totally normal to rain for 7, 8, 9 or 28 days in a row, so that sunshine in itself was an uplifting treat. You can hear the Kat’s lil’ 6 month ol’ guy Taylor Fox making sounds in the back ground.

Speaking of creativity, both Kat and Nonny are incredibly creative. Just look at this video of live performance that Kat made with Taylor. You might want to watch it a few, or several times. Brilliant.

TAPPIN’ TUESDAY

Tuesday started with a tap class at the Rhythm Room and then a 3 hour clown conditioning session at the Dusty Flowershop studio with my professional clown peers. What the heck is clown conditioning? Oh you know, just your everyday lightening up, and building presence, awareness and performance ideas through group playing, games, exercises and feedback from the team. I tried out a new turn for “Larry”, a character I’ve developed based on my dad and brother. By the way, the term “turn” basically means an “act” and I’ve heard it comes from the times when a clown would take a “turn” around the circus ring. Clowning has become a big part of my life, and I will say as I always say; you (probably) won’t ever see me in a red nose, I don’t know how to juggle, and I definitely won’t be found standing in a sewer drain so just wipe that clown connotation out of your mind right now.

Here is one of my favorite clowns:

Next came the Physical Theatre for Kids class that I facilitate for a group of 7 and 8 year olds. Just wonderful. And I’m gathering skills too. Like the fine balance of fun, focus and craziness. Hooha! We played with “sadness” in this session. The kids have all been getting really good at sharing eye contact within their “performance”, but when it came to sadness, their eyes would often avert from the audience. It’s a vulnerable space to be in, even while “pretending”. That is a curiosity that I’d like to explore some more. The learning of how to be comfortable sharing when one perhaps isn’t comfortable. It’s ok to be sad. It’s ok to be really sad, acknowledging feelings and letting them be is the way for them to move on. Let’s make more space in the world where it is safe to feel those uncomfortable emotions like sadness, anger and fear.

Aaaaand… After that, it was off to “Clown Extensions” with my beloved clown mentor/teacher David MacMurray Smith. Stay tuned, this will get it’s own article soon enough.

WEDNESDAY through SUNDAY

I have been engaged in a 5 day professional development “Integration Learning Lab” for Performing Artists presented by ARTSTARTS. We have spent the last 5 days exploring the creative possibilities of how we as professional artists can collaborate, “cross-pollinate” and integrate our art practices within the BC school system. Not only are we learning how to link our arts workshop and performance ideas to the school curriculum, but also, how to articulate our project’s purpose and outcomes as well as the ways in which art enriches the learning process. Gloriously, this wonderful experience is free for the artists who were selected through an application process thanks to the generous support of the BC Arts Council.

The project I have been developing is an Artist in Residency program where I will facilitate a class of grade 4 students in creating, producing and presenting a physical theatre show that explores the connection between mental health and community. Through the process of weekly workshops I will guide the students in a hands on, collaborative approach to story creation, character development, and the different artistic modalities we can use to express ourselves. All of this within the theme of Mental Health and Community. The idea of a project such as this has a purpose of building and developing the core competencies in creative communication, creative thinking and positive personal and social identity.

It’s a creative life. So creative that I was only able to get to one tap class this week and into the studio to tap for 3hours this week. Thanks again to Jennifer Bishop of the Rhythm Room for her expert tap and choreography skills. So, with these 4 hours, I’m only 9,480 hours of practice away from mastery! (wink! wink!)

Here’s to week 3~

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