where ideas come from

I was talking with Lily Kind of Effervescent Collective about “where (artistic) ideas come from” during our time in Baltimore. We were interested in the difference between “fantasy ideas” (the fully imagined images of the final performance that can begin the whole process) and the decisions that happen along the way (also ideas) that shape what the actual end piece is. How much to push for that original vision? How much to value the little logistical ideas/compromises that come along the way? 

My process right now is largely shaped by the fact that I am collaborating with one other individual only. And that between Chelsea and I there is rarely a disagreement about ideas. We may disagree about when an idea should happen, or how- but not the what of it- the content of it. We don’t have ideological conflicts. But part of what I am doing is having ideas in the context of Chelsea. When I go into rehearsal with her I am not imagining an opera with a corps of men. Or even more subtle things- I don’t imagine dialogue between us as would happen in a traditional play. 

For the past several years I have been on a “using what I’m seeing” kick. That means when I look at a performer I don’t have any preconceived idea of what they should or could do onstage. My favorite way to work is to in the studio together- speaking, moving, writing, singing, anything to keep momentum; the whole time practicing the art of seeing them, hearing them, knowing them as a person and performer. What are their habits? What are their themes? Their uninteresting obsessions?

I remember one dance class in college where the teacher had us perform improvisational solos for the class and then the class told us what our physical habits were so that we could work against them in the future. This struck me as violent but also premature. It was too soon to ask a twenty year old to work against their habits, before they were even aware of them. I am interested in mining the habits- what if you went even further into your weird performing predispositions? In a rigorous manner, with a questioning mind- what if you let yourself go off the deep end? With analytical acceptance instead of judgment. Trusting that the subject matter is already here, in your buttocks and your to-do lists.