I’m currently reading a very good book, The Creative Habit, Learn it and Use it for Life by Twyla Tharp. (By the way, I do not have any affiliate connections at this time. I do not make any commission from linking books or any other products.)
Twyla Tharp, one of America’s greatest choreographers, does not approach creativity from any spiritual standpoint. The first sentence on her book jacket cover quotes her, “creativity is not a gift from the gods….”, so it was surprising to me that she often says things that are very spiritual. Unlike Ms. Tharp, I do believe creativity most definitely is a part of the human DNA, bestowed on each one of us by the One who created us in His image. I have found myself saying “YES” out loud several times in this reading and I have only finished half of the book.
After every chapter she has interesting exercises that spark imagination and help the artist to “scratch”, as she calls it, to get the creative “juices” flowing. I decided to do one of these exercises, right here, on paper, with you.
This particular exercise is called “Our Perfect World” (pg. 135) and it goes like this… She introduces this idea of what her “perfect world” might look like with her creative gifts in full bloom on a daily basis. As a choreographer who has been making beautiful dance for the likes of The New York City Ballet, The Joffrey, London’s Royal Ballet and many others for more than thirty years, what would her perfect world look like? I smiled very big as I read her list. Just a regular “perfect” day in rehearsal.
There were only eight things on her very simple list, but as one who has the common work of producing a product for an audience on a stage, I related. What most captivated me about this exercise was that I have been thinking along these lines for years, but with a little different bent. If you read my “Actor’s/Artist’ Prayer” posted several weeks ago, you know that I quoted the Lord’s Prayer, where Jesus taught the disciples to pray for “on earth as it is in Heaven”. For many years I have been wondering what theatre would look like, Ms. Tharp’s “perfect world”, or what does theatre in Heaven look like? Come on, do you really think we will be sitting around on clouds all day? I think not.
Wheee… I feel like I am embarking on a breath-taking ride at the amusement park. Let’s do it. I’m going to start this list, but I’m wondering at the same time, what you would add to it. So feel free to comment with some of your thoughts.
- In rehearsal, and in production, everyone would have bionic memories so that every line came out just on cue, fully memorized, every time. That way, the good stuff, the fun part, the brilliance, the creative sparks, and the genius spontaneous surprises could start flying right away.
- That writers, came with beautiful and monumental new works and we could collaborate and help them “see” their work onstage for the first time, while at the same time we are enriched by bringing their words to life and their first production to our community.
- As part of the above, I see people, actors, writers, composers, designers and all types of creative people seeing themselves rightly… no timidity, no self-depreciation, no feelings of insecurity and, at the same time, no puffed up, arrogant, prideful types are even in the neighborhood. Just people who are willing and eager to create and cheer on others to do the same.
- Fear banished from the premises!
- Such generosity as never experienced before. Artists willing to give of themselves generously, writers and directors, musicians and patrons, with all fear gone, just happy to be there with attitudes of “what can I do to help?”, knowing that we are all part of something bigger than a night at the theatre. And patrons lining up to watch and clap and laugh and cheer and even partner with the creative great work.
- An environment of safety, honor, validation and acceptance. Jesus may have encountered flawed and broken people, but He loved them all and never left them that way.
The way that the author ended her description of this exercise is with this sentence that made me scream a very loud “YES!”…
“What are the conditions of your perfect world? Which of them are essential, and which can you work around? You may discover that you are not that far from heaven.”
Wow! In looking around me, I can see that she is so right!
Ok, now it’s your turn…