Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Writing vs. Dance

I really tried to blog yesterday, but when I got to my computer, my internet connection kept getting hung up.  So, today I will continue on the 30-day blog challenge, and somewhere along the line I'll add an extra entry.

Creating choreography is a lot like writing, only much harder.  At least with writing, you can sit down with just a pen and paper, or your laptop, and pretend for a while as you fill up the blank page.  With dance, you need to have the space to do it, to get warmed up, to have music and a stereo or ipod, and then if you come up with something, you have to do it over and over until you remember it, unless you happen to own a camcorder and can play it back right away.

And what is it about this elusive choreography?  As a dancer, when you hear music, you can see movement in your head, and imagine how your body will move to it.  You'll get these ideas at the most inappropriate times, like when you're driving down the freeway ("You're choreographing again," says the concerned spouse from the passenger seat), or when you're standing in the shower (don't try this on one foot), or when you're sitting too long at a serious meeting.  (Hmm, I wonder if they'll notice if I get up on the table and start doing tendus.)  Of course, then when you're all set up, ready to work on a dance, it's like pulling teeth trying to get things to flow.

This happened the other day.  I had a practice in the early evening for our Friday show, and I made the mistake of waiting until the "ugly hour" to do choreography.  The ugly hour (more like 2 hours) is that time after lunch between 2:00 and 4:00 when you're tired, and every creative idea seems ridiculous and irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.  Plus, I had to come up with something in the next 90 minutes that I had to teach to 7 other people.  After the first half hour, I had maybe 8 counts figured out.  I hadn't knocked over the lamp yet, but I almost ran my foot into the vacuum cleaner in the corner of the living room.  Slowly, I gained momentum.  I packed up my water bottle, dance shoes, and costume, ran out the door, and finished the choreography in my head while I was driving.

So, writing is easier than dance.  Or is it?  I think last year, with the exception of Nanowrimo, I didn't do much writing beyond my regular journaling.  If you're working on a novel, it takes a while to immerse yourself back into that fictional world that you created.  Then, once you get there, you remember why you got stuck and why you left it behind.  Imagine, then, if you have several projects going - 3 or 4 fictional worlds where you're dealing with characters, conflicts and decisions that you've created yourself and now you have to clean up the mess!

I once was getting ready for a writing conference, and I decided to pitch about 3 or 4 different novels.  Of course you have to prepare your work and get up to speed on how you talk about your characters and the plots of your books.  After working for a solid week on all of these projects, I woke up in the middle of the night and thought, "Ok, what story world am I in?  Oh, this is my life!  This is my reality.  So, do I like this reality?  Yes, I do like it..."  It can be a very fractured experience.

But there are other times, too, where the writing and the dance feed each other.  After all the dance practices are done and all you have left is the performance, after the show, you can go home and be content to sit in a chair and toss out the words, not caring if they make sense or not, because you can fix them later.  These are ideal moments of balance, where mind, body, spirit and intellect connect.  I love it when this happens!


  1. This is such an interesting comparison. I'm mostly a clutz, so composition of movement hasn't occurred to me much. Thanks for enlightening me:)

  2. Thanks. I look forward to visiting your blog.

  3. Nice post and topic! :)