Necessity is the mother of invention
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about this English proverb. Recently, I was fortunate enough to book an exciting opportunity to show my work at Harwood Estate Vinyards. The performance will take place in an unconventional performance space; an operational winery in Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada. This opportunity is interesting on many levels, but the venue itself presents a number of interesting challenges which have gotten me thinking about how the parameters we are given as artist challenge and inform our work.
When I was younger, I hated being directed creatively; it always felt limiting to me. When I was studying dance I hated creative assignments for this very reason. I think that there is a natural hubris that comes with youth and in me it reared its a head in this way; I always felt like I had the most brilliant ideas and that any kind of external prompt would somehow make my work lesser. As I got older, I began to see how the assignments I was given in composition classes forced me to rethink my initial impulses. There is a lot of value in being forced to step outside your head; to create within and without yourself.
Outside of school, I was confronted by an absence of structure and constraints for my creativity. This didn’t only apply to my artistic creation, but to life in general. Among my generation, I meet so many individuals struggling to find their way outside the structures we were brought up in. We were taught that our futures were limitless and with that in mind we worked to excel within the schools and institutions we attended. But that infinity became the paralyzing trope of our generation when we left school and found ourselves in an unsure economy with no clear path to success. The conundrum presented by such freedom is not limited to artists and millennials, it is a hallmark of our time. Barry Schwartz has a great book on this subject titled “The Paradox of Choice,” (you can also check out his TED talk here), in it he describes how, “[l]earning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.”
This paradox of choice has been on my mind lately as I struggle to find my voice as an artist and my way to in life. What I’ve found lately, is that creating without constraints can leave us paralyzed by the infinite nature of our imaginations. Limits can be liberating; they can suggest a framework, push us out of our comfort zones, and challenge our aesthetic. And so, I approach the unique demands of this latest opportunity with an eagerness to let my work be influenced by them. I don’t want to give it all away but this project is already encouraging me to find new and interesting ways to layer my choreography and think about composition. For more information about my upcoming event at Harwood Estate Vinyard click here.