Thinking About Creativity

Sometimes it’s hard to be creative.  Sometimes it’s easy.

But what does it mean to be truly creative? Can you be creative while doing someone else’s choreography? Is it creative to practice or learn the Shim Sham, the Big Apple, the Trankey Doo, etc.? Is it more creative to have confines and limitation? Or is it more creative to have a blank slate? And how does this all fit in to Lindy Hop?

I’ve been thinking about creativity and what it means to me recently so I was wondering what it means to all of you out there.

Check out the following posts for more brain stirring:

What are all your ideas?

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4 thoughts on “Thinking About Creativity

  1. Alex Dupler says:

    So, I think at its heart creativity is the decision to either meet expectations or defy them. As humans we are constantly categorizing and labeling the things we experience so that when we see something, there are certain expectations that go with it. So when we are lindy hopping, the simplest version of this decision is to swing out, or not swing out. In my experience, the things we view as most creative are to taken one commonly recognized thing and put it in an unexpected place (ala ella’s scat quotes) or to combine two well known things into a single awesome thing. This is how i view the microscopic decision making that is inherent in improvisation, be it in social dance or in jazz music itself.
    I started to write a big long jerry style essay on this in march, but I had to put it on hold for things like graduating college but essentially I try to make the case that structures like choreographies, or the male/female social dance roles, or the simple forms of our lindy music create expectations that allow us to be creative. Without these structures the decisions to make the complex movements we make would be overwhelming. and this is exponentially more true when two people or a whole band are involved. These structures allow us to make one or two decisions at a time on how to change our expectations. overtime we build up a vocabulary of these changes and we can begin to combine them for more complex decisions.
    So yes, you can be creative while doing a choreography, especially a well known one like the shim sham. In fact, I would argue that this is the easiest place in lindy hop to make creative decisions.

  2. danielcyoung says:

    Are you trying to be creative for yourself? Or, are you trying to be “awesome” in the eyes of others?

    Being creative is simply about doing something you’ve never done before. A swing-out done in a way that you’ve never done before. Learning a new routine, whether it was someone else who came up with it. The simple fact that you have never done it before makes it creative. We do this almost naturally all the time. In this way, being creative is actually easy.

    The trouble is that we judge our natural acts of creation and compare it with others, or with our own ideas of what our creations “should” be. Of course, raw creation needs hard work, discipline, and practice before they can become refined, awesome, and inspiring to others. Creating something that is new (both to others and ourselves) AND that is also inspires requires dilligence. If that’s what you mean by saying “creativity is hard,” then I agree.

  3. Apache says:

    In dance for myself creativity is ones ability to uniquely, effectively, and efficiently convey an idea or emotion. Many newer dancers assume this has to be be with an elaborate dip or some flashy move. However it can be often something as subtle as a look or a slight adjustment to a basic move to accent something within a song.

    I’ve been noticing lately a reoccurring theme while reading this in articles and writings by experienced jazz musicians, this theme being often the novice musicians is try to emulate either high/energy solos or in the case of clarinetists the speed in which Benny Goodman could play. However what made legendary jazz musicians like Count Basie stand out to experienced jazz musicians is how with a few or even a single note, he could place it at the right time to convey a wealth of emotion and meaning.

    Lately for myself being creative is convincing myself “less is more”, stripping down my dancing to the bare bones and only adding when my partner or the music asks me to. It is a journey that I am constantly finding new answers and that more questions arise in result.

  4. Alex Dupler says:

    you are totally right, but I think its important to make a distinction between having good ideas and conveying them effectively. I think that when we talk about creativity we are talking about how to have good ideas.

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