I am far from experienced in the world of burlesque. Even though I’ve been dancing since I was a wee young thing, dance – and specifically burlesque and choreography – has only moved to the “professional” (semi-professional? slightly-above-amateur? I-make-money-at-this-but-not-alot?) realm in the last 3 years
So maybe I’m not one to talk about how I usually create a solo, because “usually” means, like, a whole four times.
Going on five.
But here goes: My previous solos have all been created under a more or less deadline-less, pressure-less environment. Here’s how it happens:
- I find a piece of music that calls to me.
- I listen to it a thousand times to figure out the “story” I might tell on stage.
- Listen another thousand times to figure out when everything’s going to come off. And how.
- Hopefully by this point I’ve already figured out where I’m doing the headstand, queda de rins, cartwheel, splits, fantastical-spectacle-magic-trick.
- Take a million years (or like a month) to buy the costume/materials and craft it.
- Practice with the costume, doing the inevitable adjusting that happens when you move from in-your-head choreography to real-life choreography.
Usually, this process takes 3 or 4 months. But here’s the thing: I’m kind of freaking out a little because my newest solo is for a specific event, a specific theme, it’s commissioned, if you will. (That sounds totally important, right?) There’s a deadline. [Insert sound of booming gong gong gong here.]
I’m good with deadlines. I mean, I’m a writer. I kind of like deadlines. But my nice, clean little bullet points above have to be all shuffled around for this solo. I can’t choose just any kind of music – it has to be a certain kind. I can’t do just any act – it has to revolve around a specific theme. I have to fit everything into certain columns, and I’m used to having a blank canvas to start with.
It’s going well, actually. The crafting. But every once in a while I start to think that maybe this one won’t be as good, or as authentic creatively…or maybe I’m just being a creative whiny wuss and I need to suck it up. Maybe this kind of “directed” creativity is a good muscle to exercise. Maybe my “normal” method is more the exception than the rule? Who knows…certainly not me.
I’m definitely enjoying the process (even if there’s clearly a touch of anxiety that comes with it), so maybe that’s the important thing.
And so it goes.