Setting Goals for Choreography

Sullivant Hall Rotunda on the campus of The Ohio State University

I have had quite a bit of experience choreographing, both for students and professionals, but I have always felt pressure during the process. The pressure to make it amazing or something that wow’s the audience. The pressure that comes with time restraints, deadlines, and dancers not making it to rehearsal and throwing me off my flow. I’m not saying pressure is a bad thing, in fact, I work well under pressure and sometimes end up creating something really great. It’s the pressure I put on myself to create perfection or to get it just right that gets in my way. The fear of failing gets me inside my head and I lose sight of my goal: to create art that has meaning to me. 

In this semester of Choreography Workshop, I want to learn how to fail with acceptance. I want to be able to make it through a creative process without getting completely inside my head that I become stuck in the negative thoughts. When I inevitably do get stuck in those thoughts I want to be able to let go, move on, and then come back with the wisdom that not everything I make is going to be a showstopper. In my times of doubt I hope to learn to push through those negative thoughts by acknowledging that they are there, accepting that I can’t control everything, and trust my instincts as an artist. 

I am also hoping that this course will provide me with a safe space to experiment and learn from my success and failure, as well as the success and failures of my cohort. There is an amazing amount of diversity in our group; we all have something to contribute and we all have something to learn. I expect to find that there is power in failing and learning and growing in a group. Each of us has a unique perspective and I expect that we will contribute to the learning of each other. I hope to learn more about my unique perspective and how that can inform my choreography. I hope that what I learn from and about others will also help to inform my choreography. 

In this course I am committing to allowance. I will allow myself to fail. I will allow myself to learn from my failing. I will allow myself to receive the wisdom of others. I will allow myself to accept the things I cannot control. I commit to doing the hard work of daily creativity, however small or insignificant it may seem. I commit myself to the discovery of my own artistic voice and merits. When I am frustrated, depressed, and full of anxiety I will be committed to being still and listening. 

When I look back on this experience I want to know that I was honest and truthful in my dance making. I want to remember the hard times and know that I pushed myself, but that I was also kind to myself. I want to be able to recall the experiences of doubt and failure so that I can remind myself that I do have what it takes and that I am good enough. I want to look back and know that I created art that was genuine and inspired. I want to be able to remember that I got through this time with the support of my cohort and that I was there to support them. I want to remember this time and place as a space for creativity and discovery. 

My job now is to learn. To learn about myself and to learn about others. I hope for gracious understanding from within. I am committed to the craft of dance making and honing the craft in myself. I am here to contribute to the community of artist that is my cohort; to learn from them and provide my knowledge and experience. This will be my biggest adventure yet. 

2 thoughts on “Setting Goals for Choreography

  1. Welcome to OSU John! I’m so excited to see what you make and discover while here! I curious to know how you are framing “failure” vs. “success.” What do those outcomes look like or feel like to you? What kinds of (in)visible rubrics are you giving yourself inside of your choreographic process? Perhaps reevaluating those parameters is part of this journey of discovery that you are entering into?

    Your reflection, “When I am frustrated, depressed, and full of anxiety I will be committed to being still and listening,” really jumped out to me. I think it’s really powerful to refute the pressure to perform and instead tune into the body and its kinesthetic knowledge(s).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There is so much beauty, wonderful vulnerability, honesty, and wisdom in this post! I am always amazed at how much negative self-talk can hold one back, so this post leaves me inspired to “fail with acceptance” in my work as well. I am so excited to see where this journey takes you – you are obviously creating a healthy foundation from which to build your creation. OSU is lucky to have you!

    Liked by 1 person

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