Travel. It makes me wanna blog.
Today, I’m on my way to Pittsburgh, and fall is HERE! The trees have changed color a lot since my Amtrak ride back to NYC last week. For those of you who don’t know, I have been going back and forth to Pittsburgh since August to work with the amazing choreographer Michael Rooney on ABC Family’s first movie musical, ELIXIR. The movie stars the breathtaking Jane Seymour and the absolutely brilliant Chelsea Kane, as well as the gorgeous Sara Paxton, Drew Seeley, Tom Wopat, and Adrienne Bailon. I have had an incredible time working with Michael, his assistant Danny, and the superteam of dancers on this project (including the stars- just WAIT until you see what they do!!), and feel so grateful to be part of it! I can only imagine how I will cry and shriek when I see the finished product next spring- eeeee!
Working as a choreographer for film = my Next Big Dream. I love how the creative drawing board just expands when you think of camera angles, 360 shots, overhead shots...endless possibilities!!! Especially when you have an upbeat and funky fun director like Sanaa Hamri, jumping around with childlike enthusiasm and spitting out ideas faster than you can possibly write them down! It’s an adult playground. Totally exciting, explosively creative and glamourous, but also challenging, fast-paced, and ever-changing. Time is money. You MUST plan well, but you also have to be flexible. You can’t be too attached to your material. As with any major project, there have been changes, challenges and minor setbacks during our process with this film, but the art is in how you deal.
I am not saying it's always easy. But I AM saying there are some helpful guidelines to keep in mind, when you feel that THE MAN is taking away your juju!!! And I am going to give them to you!!! Here are three ways to help you artfully and smoothly maintain your creative flow in times of challenge:
1. TAKE A HINT FROM THE FOUR AGREEMENTS: REMEMBER THAT IT'S NOT PERSONAL! Especially with your art. Yes, you may have to change your favorite piece of choreography to fit a dancer who has different abilities. You may have to cut entire numbers to stay within the budget. You may have to revisit the same number four, five, or ten times to tweak it exactly how Mr. TV Executive sees it in his mind (clearly I am using choreo references here because that's what I know best. Feel free to apply it to your line of work!). And it has nothing to do with you, your work, or your artistic integrity. It’s how you fit into the bigger picture and how you roll with the punches (bonus points if you stay chipper all the while!). The ability to withstand all of that BS and still be able to let the brilliance flow-- that is the gold. And who knows... maybe you’ll even (gasp) GROW as a result! Fun Affirmation: "I am a creative genius."
2. REMEMBER THAT RESISTANCE IS YOUR FRIEND. Whaaa? That's right. Next time your budget for paint gets cut, your project deadline gets pushed up a week, or your lead gets sick on the day of the show, y'all, just take a second and BREATHE. Feel what is happening in your body. Fear, anger, and the desire to chain smoke or inhale a Cinnabon are common knee jerk reactions to those pesky road blocks that appear out of nowhere just before your big break. It's just resistance. DO NOT LET THIS STOP YOU. Take a few slow, deep breaths, clear your head and drink a glass of water, mentally remove the drama from your brain, and keep moving. Sidenote: I highly recommend Steven Pressfield’s The War Of Art, a warm and humorous book which first delves into the yucky things that can freeze your artistic vision, and then teaches you how to snap the hell out of it. It’s an easy read, guaranteed! Fun Affirmation: "I am able."
3. TOOT YOUR OWN HORN AND GIVE YOURSELF SOME CREDIT! There is no better way to get into that "I Can Do It NO MATTER WHAT" mentality than to remind yourself how far you have come! I suggest you make a list of your biggest accomplishments and keep them where you can see them. I keep my "As Seen In" graphic as my computer desktop image, not because I want everyone at Starbucks to see it, but to remind myself that I have accomplished things! I have done this before! I have succeeded in the past, and I can do it again. Here's mine, and I highly recommend that you make yourself a flashy, pretty reminder for yourself! Fun Affirmation: "I am courageous!"
So there you go. What do you think? How’s your grace under pressure? Where do you feel inflexible or unwilling to let go? What are your triumphs around this subject? Leave a comment below and tell me where you excel, and where you fall apart! Let’s help each other. Can't wait to hear from you.
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