I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes someone an artist. There are lots of definitions and although some make a living creating art; that doesn’t diminish the artist persona in all of us. I came to this understanding while on vacation with my family.
My family just returned from a trip to the Dominican Republic. It’s a beautiful island with amazing beaches and I spent time in the water. At one point after my family left the water I hung out and bounced with the waves, then it happened. My feet starting moving and my hands started moving and I was dancing in the water. There was no music, just the sounds of the water splashing and the kids playing on the shore. There was an internal beat I couldn’t resist.
In the dining areas of the resort, it wasn’t unusual for the staff to sing with the music playing on the intercom. They were jovial with big smiles and grooving to the tunes. They were singing! The folks in the gift shop joined in for the chorus of the tunes playing in the retail establishment all happy and bouncing to the beat…they were singing.
How many times have you been in a meeting and you find yourself doodling on the paper in front of you? You may create elaborate designs all over the page. I have found this to be true while in school. All of my notebooks have doodles and scribbles throughout. Every time we pick up a pen, pencil, or marker and make a mark we’re artists.
We have innate need to express. When we express we feel better. Our ability to create relieves stress and provides us with the ability to get something out of our body and out to the world. The biggest point I want to make is that you have to stop negating your creativity. If you dance, you’re a dancer. If you sing, you’re a singer. It doesn’t mean you’re going to be on So You Think You Can Dance or American Idol. It does mean that your body, mind, and spirit are joining forces to express themselves through the avenue of art.
Don’t’ allow the committee in your head to negate your inner artist. We all have creative potential so let’s get out there and use it!!!!
I was watching So You Think You Can Dance; it’s the audition phase of the show. This is when the most talented and the most ridiculous people get up and perform for the judges hoping for a spot in the competition. Dancing is a beautiful art form and takes years of training and practice. That doesn’t mean you can’t dance; it just means you may not be a professional dancer. Dancing for enjoyment, pleasure and self-expression is divine.
One dancer approached the microphone with an accent. Turns out she was from the Czech Republic. When asked what style of dance she would be doing she responded, “popping”. The music began and she was off the races. She was polished, rhythmic, and beautiful to watch. She was thoroughly engaged in the process. She was in the zone.
The first words out of my mouth were, “I could never do that”. A little while later I stopped and caught what I had said. I had determined I couldn’t do something before I even attempted it. It’s amazing how the negative self-talk sneaks in under the radar and inhibits us. It may even prevent us from trying something we enjoy and are energetically drawn.
How many people look at a painting and wonder if they can paint? Have you been to the symphony and watched the musicians wondering if you could ever play the violin, the oboe, or the tuba? It’s these moments of wonder that we have to grab on to because they tell us our creative selves are looking to be birthed.
We may never have a painting in the Louvre or play at Carnegie Hall, but we can engage in art. We can use our creative energies to soothe our soul and that’s healing. We can invoke the creative muses providing the space for us to take out a pen and paper and write a poem or story. These energetic urges may even invite you to take lessons or classes giving you the opportunity to try expressing yourself through art.
Art is healing. It provides us with a beautiful way of telling our stories. I remember an episode of Friends where Monica was in the back of the room at a tap class. The teacher yells, “You’re doing it wrong” and Monica responds, “At least I’m doing it!” Those are words to live by when engaging in art. Take a chance. Encourage others to take a chance! Who knows what may emerge and what other creative pathways you may choose to explore!
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I’m a big fan of the reality show So You Think You Can Dance. It’s probably one of my favorite shows because these young folks have committed their lives to their artistic process. These artists have devoted countless hours to their art. They have devoted their lives to expressing their narratives through their bodies.
One young man who had auditioned last year returned for another try. He got on stage and told the judges that his father had died last December. The judges knew his father because at the last audition he got up on stage and danced with his son. It was a shock for everyone, judges as well as me, a viewer. He moved to the choreography round. Unfortunately he didn’t make it to Hollywood. His story was touching, and filled with meaning.
The amazing thing about this young man was his perseverance. He was eliminated and instead of walking away from the competition, he went to the next city where auditions were being held to audition again. His audition piece was the story about the last message his dad left him before his death. It was moving, heartfelt, and beautiful. Once again he moved on to choreography where this time he was invited to move to the Hollywood round. He told the judges before he danced, I’m a dancer, and dancers don’t give up!
He took an incredibly painful experience and expressed it through dance. He used his body to emote. He was impacted so deeply by his experience that the only way he felt he could honor his father and his craft was through his choreography. His determination was glorious. He shows us how art provides a platform for ultimate self-expression and that leads to healing. As an artist he personifies the healing experience.
I’m not a dance, but experiencing his dance provided me encouragement to continue creating art in my own medium. He punctuated the importance of telling one’s story, mining his soul for the impact of his life experiences. This young man may not win the competition, but in my eyes, healing is winning!
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