“Creativity alive and well, generations back.”

November 13, 2015
Barbara Cook

creativityWhat does ‘being creative’ mean to you?

A couple of weeks ago my blog post was based on my February journal entry, where I was describing a few of the dances I created for my ballet concerts in the early 90s. Some people ask me, “But how do you come up with all these ideas?”   The answer is, “I don’t know.” But I do know that I’ve always been creative. My three siblings are as well: entrepreneurs and builders of home-made river craft. In fact I come from a long line of creative people. My Grandfather once made a violin. He and my Dad built a boat together. They were both inventive and practical, especially with woodwork. My Mum was a fabulous seamstress, and I took it for granted that one of our kitchen cupboards was stuffed full of multi-coloured fabrics and trims, and that our kitchen table was often taken over with sewing projects that started as strange-shaped fabric pieces that magically became a garment!   I feel very lucky that creativity was a given in our household. As ‘Mrs. Mills’ writes in her notebook in Chapter 21 of “Good Choice – A Soul’s Story” : “Creativity alive and well, generations back … Parental support for gifts—strong.”

       My creativity has mainly been expressed through Dance choreography. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of creating a new combination of the steps and techniques I’ve learned over the many years of my training, ending up with an original dance that’s pleasing to the eye and suitable for the age group I’m teaching.

But as you saw over the past two weeks, creativity sometimes opens me up to the world of symbols and abstraction, leads to expression of my truth, and something deeper as well. How do I come up with all these ideas? I don’t know if it’s the same for all of you creatives out there, but it seems to me that I enter a world far removed from rational thought. It seems that, having tossed around ideas, images, snippets of meaning and half-formed impressions, I enter some kind of state of flow. It seems to me that it’s not really ‘me’ doing the creating, rather that I become a co-creator with something way bigger than myself. Often there’s some kind of wisdom there for me that only becomes evident months later. It’s as if something much bigger than my little mind knows what I need to see, and when I need to see it. One year, I remember deciding to perform my version of the famous ‘Dying Swan’ solo. It took many months of dedicated rehearsal, but it was only when I got to the end-of-the year concert that my life experiences had me in the exact state of that floundering, fluttering, despairing, wounded bird.

When I’m creating, I know that I’m in some kind of trance-state, as hours can pass by unnoticed. The outside world doesn’t exist. (Oops, it’s just happened again, as I’m writing this blog post.)   I’ve had occasions where my kids have come home from school as I’m in the middle of choreographing. Their presence was like a jolt back to a different kind of reality. I often find it impossible to actually converse with them for a bit, as if I have to search around for the road on which speech travels. I’m convinced that different neural pathways in the brain are switched on during the creative process.

What is your experience of the creative state?

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