Friday, 20 March 2015

Destroying the art

A couple of months ago my attention was drawn to this interview with Sergei Polunin. In it he talks about how it was necessary to destroy, or "delete" everything he had previously worked for, in order to start afresh and remain creative.

Often artists create work that is intended to be destroyed, ice and snow sculptures, drawings in the sand waiting for the tide, installations designed to be taken over by nature and crumble into the earth. While some art is curated by people devoted to its long term preservation, other art is made through its destruction, it's impermanence being a key part of its beauty.

Performance, such as dance, often belongs in the moment. Although it may be immortalised in images or video, people often say that the energy of a dance is lost, and it's never quite as good when viewed on film.

When I perform, I usually try to capture it on video, primarily so that I can reflect upon it later and understand better how to improve for my future performances. Sometimes that doesn't happen, through logistics, forgotten cameras, technical failures or "no film" rules at particular shows.

Often that disappoints me, especially if it was an improvised performance as it really does feel lost forever. An enormous amount of work goes into a 4 minute performance (let alone a longer one) and when that is over, with nothing tangible to show for it, it can feel like an anticlimax.

Sometimes though, there is a sense of "rightness" in that. The performance stays in the moment, in the memories of a few witnesses - and never mine, because I can never recall my experience of a performance, I go into my dance-mind and effectively black out!

It also means that I can move on. I can cast aside that performance and look forward to the next. No judgement, no hangover, and with that comes an enormous rush of creative freedom.

For me bellydance is about transformation. Almost every dancer I have met came to the dance during, or in anticipation of, a period of intense transformation. This is why I created Dancing with the Red Goddess, as a way to acknowledge the personal transformative experience that often comes with the dance.

I also note that within my own dance career I have undergone a series of intense metamorphoses, and these, like all initiatory experiences, necessitate a letting go, or destruction of the previous ways and paths not taken. A system with continuous growth is unsustainable, creativity can only exist when in harmony with destruction. Or, "you can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs".

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