Highfalutin Words!

What happens when you bring your natural creative expression together with others in a co-creative dance of spontaneous unfoldment? Hopefully not just a bunch of highfalutin words! 

Do you love to dance? Are you a passionate singer or rapper? How about a natural facilitator or someone who lights up people’s minds with your artistic creations? Whatever passion burns inside you it’s possible to set this free together with others and literally create as one. I’m not talking about melting into an amorphous blob of we, some unconscious collective borg state, but consciously letting go of self-concern in relationship with others.

So much of what limits us comes down to how we relate to one another, to each other as an other. If you start with the premise that we are actually one, and engage consciously in this process together we can free not only ourselves, but each other from the limiting shackles that hold us back mentally, emotionally and of course creatively. Many of us yearn for relief from the ongoing torment of tension and pressure we experience from life. We often find different ways of dealing with this reality; some of us meditate, dance, go on retreats, create, love, etc. In this spirit I am attempting to bring the essence of this impulse in us together in a free container where we can truly be ourselves, together; where there are no limits or pre-defined paths to  what can emerge.

Creating and Relating Dynamically

I’ve always loved working creatively with others, dancing your creative edge in spontaneous dialogue together. But it’s also incredibly challenging! Whether it’s the ego of the artist, or just the clunky way we humans have been wired, it’s really hard to work together with others.

Something I have been exploring and really want to bring to this work is how to relate dynamically, freely, so we can be ourselves fully and in total relationship. We live in a world dominated by hierarchical relationships, built on 1000s of years of this form of social structure. We also live in a time where we have begun to recognise the limitations of this way of relating, and many of us have been fighting against it in different ways, especially since the 1960s. But we are still just fighting against it and however important and significant that is; it is still against, in opposition, which means it is we make it real and are not able to be free from it.

However developed or evolved (or not developed or evolved) any of us think we are, we all exist in this network of hierarchy. I lived in a spiritual community for a large part of my adult life where the ground of relationship was supposed to be based on the realisation that we are all one. In reality it was as far from that as you could possibly imagine. It was essentially a military organisation, with our teacher as the main general. Now that’s a longer story and there are many dimensions to that kind of experience, but the point is that hierarchy has become an unconscious, and in some ways natural, part of our society. Just take a look at you own experience when you are in any situation with other people. At work, with friends, maybe a creative project, like a band, or even something as supposedly subtle as a spiritual group. We are all always positioning ourselves in relationship to others, or trying to justify to ourselves that we are not doing that. Whatever position we take, we are always locating ourselves in relationship to others, and positioning ourselves in an unconscious hierarchical structure, like some kind of invisible 3-dimension web that has different levels of importance on it. We do this unconsciously, it’s basically how we operate, how we navigate, how know who we are and where we are in the world.

Basically the fact that we do this isn’t really our fault; it’s what we’ve inherited. Our social structures and the ways we relate have been built over thousands of years where, for better or worse, we organised ourselves, and what we do together, through hierarchical structures. But now that many of us are starting to see this as a limitation/problem, and are really starting to question it, what can we do about it? On some level there isn’t much we can do about it and we also can’t just get rid of it, it would be like tearing out the very ground we are walking on. But, if we can begin to understand how this function operates in and between us, understand more deeply why it is there, then we can begin to find a way of relating that is not dominated by this; a dynamic relationship where all individuals get to be fully themselves in the natural web of dynamic relating. We are all different; we all have different skills, talents and potentials, which are mostly kept down by the structure of hierarchy. None of this will mean anything though if it stays in the realm of ideas and so I feel called to explore this possibility with others, through the medium of dynamic creative collaboration. Hopefully I’ll finds some humans who might be able to help! 

Real Live Collaboration!

As a dancer I love to collaborate with musicians, especially when it is done live. This clip surfaced 5 years ago and seems to have re-emerged on the wonderful interweb. It captures such a powerful and unique expression of collaboration.

I’d never really seen anything like it. This type of dancing yes, as I followed a lot of the emerging street-dance movement, which has probably been the biggest influence in my own style of dance. But this co-created work of art transmits the sheer beauty of dance, movement and collaboration directly, without filter.

As Yo-Yo Ma and Lil Buck fly over the edge of their own creative expressions they seem to disappear as separate artists, merging into one symphony of dynamic creativity. It all unfolds in real time with Lil Buck essentially free styling as Yo-Yo Ma plays a written piece, but with immediate presence. Dancer and music are one; what emerges is something truly original and could only have been born out of this way of creating together. A profound trust, not only in their own abilities as artists, but in the unfolding beauty of what can emerge when you collaborate with another, or others, and the life is really a mysterious adventure.

These are the kinds of inspirations that have led to want to create a project that is based on trusting deeply together in direct and spontaneous collaboration.

The Freedom Lab!

I want to bring a project to life that has been simmering in me since my late teens. It has taken many forms but there has been something essential to its nature that has continued throughout. I’ve decided to blog about it as a way of both developing it and recording its progress. I’ve also decided to post at least one blog each day for 100 days as a motivator, because I’m lazy. It won’t necessarily be full blogs, but some form of progress, process, development etc., what is happening with the creation of the project. A bit rough and ready, but with the idea of trying shit out!

So, on to the project!

I have a very strong sense of direction, but because of the co-creative nature of the project, its form is very, errrrm, unformed. I want to create a space for us to create together, as one collective, but with each of our own individual creative passions and potential. At this point it would probably follow a similar structure to a 5Rhythms (or any ecstatic dance/movement meditation practice) class in that it would move through a wave but instead of just dancing people would be able to participate with their own deepest passion and creative expression. Maybe that is dance, maybe it’s music, singing, drumming, dj’ing, or maybe it’s some kind of visual art. Although not limited to, this work really benefits from live expression. At the same time I want to stress that this is more about what we create together, meaning that we all have totally different ways of seeing things, desires etc. and I want a forum that is truly open. There would also be no real teacher/leader/facilitator; it would literally be co-created in the moment, together. An original co-created art form that would always be new and ever changing. Now if all of this is a bit vague, or doesn’t make sense, don’t worry! If you are least a little bit interested I will be elaborating on this, clarifying and articulating as I go. My plan is to not just articulate the ideas myself but start to explore this with others and see if there is both interest in a project like this, and also start to get input into what it could look like.

There are many influences that have come together to create the impulse for this project. These include, in no particular order:

  •   Powerful transcendent experiences (some may or may not have been influenced by mind altering thingamyjigs) during my teenage years, that led to a committed exploration of the inner life;
  • Powerful transcendent experiences (seems to be a theme here ;)) through dance, but also just the simple and direct experience of dance itself, for its own sake;
  • 15 years involvement with an intense, committed, crazy spiritual community that was trying to create a collective culture grounded in the spiritual revelation of oneness, oh and also the tumultuous and deeply liberating dissolution of this community (I think I learnt more from the latter!);
  • Getting involved with conscious dance/movement practices, especially 5rhythms, and also the form of a wave that is often used in these practices;
  • A passion for conscious performance that began with a vision of performance art that is motivated by the essence of what life is (I guess it always is!), driving me to get involved in the spiritual life (not sure what that actually means anymore) in a more committed way (I basically gave up what was my life at that point and joined a cult!) to bring this vision to life, and led to a very powerful collaboration project where I worked with a live musician, projection artist and myself as the dancer/director to create a truly integrated experience that would communicate the direct experience of life as movement and stillness as one thing;
  • Collaborating with others in co-creative events that included live music, talks, comedy performance etc.;
  • Oh, and the most important part of all, the unfolding beauty and love that is my life with my wife and our little daughter Joy!

To be continued…