Roundtable #5 – Creativity

WHAT MAKES YOU A CREATOR?

Would you say you are more of an inventor or a mixer of crafts?  When did you start making your own rules and was there a particular experience that brought you the confidence to make something of your own?

 

 

Boredom and curiosity make me a creator. I am a mixer of crafts and a sometimes inventor. I occasionally find myself teaching a made up exercise to address a client’s specific need, leaving me to wonder, “where did THAT come from?”   I began making my own rules gradually. I studied, went to workshops, applied what I was learning, both in books and in various workshops, to clients and to myself. I observed what worked, threw out what didn’t, noticed people respond differently to different things, and let my curiosity about “what happens if…” lead me down different rabbit holes. l developed the confidence to make my own rules after I began to deeply understanding why specific things work and why different techniques were effective. Following a recipe for movement never resonated with me- I wanted to know how the ingredients worked. — Jenn Pilotti

 

What makes you a creator?  — Rather than just a teacher or mover?  I’d say it comes out of my openness to influence first, and then from my skepticism for authority.  I describe myself as a yoga teacher, though much of what I do would not rigidly be described as yoga.  What makes for yoga, to me, is the mindfulness and a self-directed idea of competition or “transformation”.  I’m always asking, what can I do, really?  Can I do more? Can I do things better? What happens when I mess around with the details of this movement / posture or another?  I’ve always been wary of gurus or rigid systems of practice.  They interest me, but I’m not willing to just give myself over completely to someone else’s standards or judgment.  My intention is to explore to find out things that fascinate me or pull me away from my own expectations.  I bring that to my classes when I teach, hoping it’s interesting and valuable to other people as well.
Would you say you are more of an inventor or a mixer of crafts?  — I’m skeptical of anyone who might characterize themselves as an “inventor”.  I think the label overstates the idea of originality.  Especially with the level of online communication and the quick spread of ideas from different disciplines, I think we’re all living in a soup of possible practices, many taken from the same basic principles of movement, though they might be directed by different criteria.  So that’s a vote for “mixer of crafts”.
When did you start making your own rules and was there a particular experience that brought you the confidence to make something of your own?   — This was my preoccupation when I first started teaching yoga.  Once I had to really explain the practice to other people, to justify why I was teaching poses or transitions in one way rather than another, I did a lot of research to settle my mind.  Much of what I found yoga teachers insisting on seemed quite arbitrary the more I looked, especially if they were wedded to finely-detailed cuing (“turn your back foot 60 degrees, weight to the second toe, etc.”).  I feel like many people simply pursue the aesthetics of movements (like a judged, exhibition sport — gymnastics, ice skating, etc.), or they become wedded to the exact words of a guru, repeating the guru’s words and reasoning without asking where all of that came from, anyway.  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why I’m doing this, and what are the best principles to follow as I practice, so everything I encounter is filtered that way.  I came to structure my classes and practice in a problem-solving way: What do I want to do, and what do I need to do to get there?  To keep it motivating, I like to work on difficult things. — Chris Davis

 

The system alone that we work with and play with on a day to day basis is infinitely dynamic, no one repetition of anything is ever or will ever be precisely the same as another. Knowing that, we can literally do whatever we want and have a tremendous impact on the system from a macro level all the way to the microscopic level. This is what makes my job fun. I don’t know if I have invented anything that someone else hasn’t already thought of, however I can say with certainty that I fall into the creative category. I love mixing all of my knowledge and experiences to help me with proper decision making whether it’s for a coaching client or a manual therapy client. This in company with practicing things in my own training helps me create unique manual treatments and coaching sessions. Our bodies and brains love options, so the more variables I can provide, the more we both can learn. I think the fact that nobody ever told me NOT to do something, that I was wrong or unsafe is what kept me pushing the boundaries and remain motivated throughout my career. I think my sessions became more than “just sessions”, they became experiences, bonds, friendships, therapy sessions, challenges, and overall different than the rest. I pride myself on being a maverick I guess.  — Brian Fox

 

It’s probably not a satisfying answer, but I think I’m about as much a creator, mixer, and copycat as anyone else. There’s nothing new under the sun, and yet we all bring our own experience to the table.
Maybe slightly more satisfying, let’s make it a little more concrete. As a coach, I sometimes get credit for coming up with some fancy roll or useful mobility exercise. Other times, I get told I’m using a system or I must have learned something from a certain dancer. I try to avoid getting wrapped up in either end of that spectrum. My focus is on helping people, which in my experience usually requires a combination of creativity and listening. — Jeremy Fein

 

I can say with full conviction, that no-one is an inventor, when it comes to movement.  My “creativity” if deemed as such, comes from the intimate knowledge of my parts, influences from movers and thinkers whom I admire, a playful interaction with a variety of the movement tools and my environment. My creativity is defined by the way use my body, to find movement solutions to movement goals. In finding these goals, I like to let my mind wander on the different contexts in which movement takes place. I want to move in as many ways as I can. That is where my creativity comes from. Like a peaceful, gracious and playful movement Highlander. — Gary Stockdale

 

I am a creator. I am because I can’t not be. It has never been in my nature to follow. I love to invent and mix crafts. Often I invent by mixing crafts.
I think I have been making my own rules all along, it was only when I left my employer to make my own business that I had no “coach” telling me how to play the game. I made my own rules.   — Austin Einhorn

 

“A triad of experiences between 2012 – 2014 necessitated the dire need to  – as you say – ‘make’eth one’s own rules’.  An truly auspicious event occurred the day I stopped writing Cl3ver responses to emails about my work. An interested fellow had emailed me and I replied with what amounted to more or less – “I practice Physical Alchemy, motherfucker”.  Said gentleman was not offended or put off. Indeed, he was suitably intrigued!  The sessions we began and continue to this day pointed very clearly to the fact that the work I am doing is not like anything else I have ever encountered or was taught.  And that the more I let go of a contrived way of ‘doing’, the more creations of a wholly new character flow forth. Insights, techniques and ways of working not seen elsewhere (that amaze me (too) as they pop into existence).  This, along with experiences coming from my personal practice triangulated in on some startling insights that further strengthened my resolve to abandon totally the approaches I had learned and that my peers and colleagues practiced – counter to many peoples advice and against many of the trends within the wider landscape of physical training methods.  I realized in a series of horrifyingly-wondrous encounters that when I spoke of the experiences and discoveries of my work with people that I knew, they actually had no experience with or idea of what I was describing and were taking other experiences they had had to be what I was talking about.  These were not beginners either but people very well versed in multiple fields of inquiry and training of the human being. That something outside of the normal was happening became very, very clear. Was I bold enough to jump into the abyss.. All these impressions along with the successful guiding of a handful of apprentices through ‘these dark woods’ brought everything full circle – something new had been created through me and not ‘by me’ as commonly conceived of in relation to discoveries.  The less I thought about or analyzed any of it the more dynamic and mercurial the creative flow became.  Precisely the opposite of when I was desperately trying to ‘invent’ something by ‘mixing’ methods.  This odd work needs to be taught and expressed – but by its very nature it requires a creative expression of a certain type far outside of normal ideas and expressions of ‘innovation’ and ‘creativity’ – an expression that shows, tests and teaches all at once.”  — Dave Wardman

 

I am a creator only so far as I have pushed myself to see the perspectives of several different disciplines with a bias towards the general approach. As they say, there is nothing new under the sun, only the singular unique perspective that each individual can shed upon what is already known, if they choose to go this route. Mixer of crafts is a lovely way to put it because it reminds me of what a DJ does, feeling their own influences and inner drive to create something new out of what is already known. I see myself in a perpetual state of discovery, yet to create my greatest work or a work that will be noteworthy. Like many artists, I may never create a masterpiece in my lifetime but I will continually seek to refine my own process to make it fully my own.  — Nelson Cuadras

 

I think creativity and inventing was always a part of me, even as a toddler. If I start seriously thinking about it, I have no idea how I found the confidence to start making my own rules and protecting my ideas even when I was 3 years old. I can only assume that it is mostly because my parents were always taking me seriously and considering my thoughts while there was a decision making process. Also, there was always a logical explanation if I asked a question, my curiosities were always fulfilled with relative information and I was never dismissed as a child. It made me a very confident young woman and an adult later on. I started drawing as soon as I was able to hold a pen; so creating images, pulling stories out of my own imagination and making my own little worlds was a serious part of my life experience. That experience and habit developed into expressing creativity in everything that I do.  — Sev Gurmen

 

I create to bridge voids and fill in gaps.  Creating is an engaged form of problem solving.  A large part of what I do and teach is to encourage people to make something up.  Self-developed task/ challenges are directly scaled to the abilities of the creator, in their thinking and/or doing (hopefully both).  Creativity is the belief that your ideas are just as good as those that are universally accepted/ practiced.  Thinking is a means of inventing, as is mixing and filtering, because it expands your personal scope of possibility.
My charge for taking responsibility for the way I used and understood my body came after a cavalcade of injury after I blew my knee out.  The doctors and experts couldn’t fix me, so I took it upon myself to do my own research.  My progress gave me the confidence to start changing up the PE curriculum, and now I seek to give the kids the tools, time, and freedom to empower themselves through their own investigations and practices of skill development.  — Chris Ruffolo

 

I don’t believe I create anything. The things I come up with, almost certainly, have been done before but I just haven’t come across it.
I do practice creativity though, by being curious and through movement research with and without objects. I’m also often inspired by others and try to go beyond what inspired me. This could come in different forms, trialling with other materials or as variations of the original movement or idea I got the inspiration from.
One way I come up with a game, movement riddle or task is to choose and object and explore the movement possibilities it can offer me. On the spot, traveling through space or with another person. Adding context and intention is also part of the process
The confidence for sharing my work is closely related to having the mindset of not needing permission from others. I had a hard time dealing with it for a long time and it is something I still practice.
Stay curious and focus on discovering instead of creating. — Miguel Viero

 

I am definitely a creator but less an inventor than a repurposer of mediums, information and ideas.
My work as an artist and as an educator collages together performance and education that has inspired me with my own insights and visions.
The skill of integrating inspirations from others and my own discoveries into an authentic product from ME takes time. I think a lot of students begin “creating” by parroting others until they feel where their own creative fire begs digression from the familiar formulas and protocols. For me this started as early as high school, when I had my first inspiration to make a piece of dance choreography combining tap shoes, flamenco footwork and modern dance. It was an ambitious and cheesy idea that I was unprepared to execute, but my dancers worked with me to help create a piece that could be performed despite the challenge. That experience was my first in leading a creative collaboration, and a lesson in the potential to manifest a creative vision into something real. Every creative endeavor since then has been a lesson in going deeper and refining how I can be a clear channel for creative ideas and an articulate and dynamic executor of those ideas. — Nicki Miller

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