Project Announcement | Conversations in Process
You have probably figured out by now that I am starting a podcast (if you haven’t, then surprise! I’m starting a podcast). It is titled Process Piece and consists of interviews with artists and creative types on the complex behind-the-scenes of how and why they make their work. The idea for this podcast began over a year ago, fueled by the desire to find a way to connect further with other artists who inspire me, explore a totally new and unknown creative medium, and above all, learn more about something that I have always found deeply fascinating- the never-ending creative process. I cannot wait to finally share the result of all of this brainstorming and hard work.
However, there is one thing that I have not told you yet. This podcast is actually a piece (process piece, get it?) of an overarching, larger personal project that I am undertaking this year.
It’s called Conversations in Process.
It started where so many artistic projects begin- with feeling hopelessly and probably a bit over-dramatically stuck in my professional life. 2019 began, as so many years do, with very high personal expectations. I had this burst of feeling that it was time to start something amazing, to establish the perfect routines, get my life under control, etc. You know, very attainable things. The higher these expectations got, the more overwhelmed I became and I spiraled down into a mess of creative and artistic self-doubt. As any artist knows, this in itself can be a hard but necessary part of the creative process, as long as you don’t wallow down there for too long.
I knew I needed to drag myself out of the wallowing before I hit bottom, so I did what I always do- I had a conversation. I talked it out with one of the people I always turn to for deep, soul-searching kind of chats- in this case, my husband Marouan. I lamented about being pulled in too many directions; I had chosen the word focus as my intention for the year and was feeling anything but focused. The links between my dancing self, choreographer self, teacher, writer, blogger, yogi, and everything else felt disjointed and awkwardly cobbled together. How could I find a way to concentrate and move forward?
Marouan thought for a bit and then wisely suggested that I do something seemingly simple- pick one theme, concentrate on it completely, and spend a chunk of time researching it through all of the creative mediums that I already practice. Namely dance, choreography, writing and blogging, connecting on social media, and teaching. One subject, different forms of study. I loved idea immediately, knowing it was exactly what I needed to do. Without hesitation, I chose the theme then and there. It was what everything I had been doing was already honing in on:
I am going to spend this year concentrating on the deep study of conversations.
I am still in the very beginning phases of this project- researching, gathering ideas, and asking a million questions that with no doubt will only multiply into more questions as the research goes on.
How do we have more meaningful conversations? How do we communicate across boundaries, borders, and barriers between language, culture and perspective? How can we overcome fears, express our inner selves, and create small steps towards change, all through simply talking with other people? How do we talk to ourselves? How does that effect how we talk to other people?
These inquiries are the sparks that will hopefully set off the forward momentum for this entire undertaking.
So far, the project is broken down into three sections of study:
Conversations with myself: inner, solo dance work in the studio, both improvised and choreographed that could lead to video and/or performance material.
One-on-one conversations with others: the podcast- a literal representation of the subject, plus future dance collaborations.
Large scale conversations: formulating the basis for movement workshops that I could teach anywhere in the world.
To be honest, I am not sure exactly where this project will lead. This is a challenge for me in itself because I am the kind of person who likes to work with concrete dates and deadlines. A performance. A workshop. A completed essay. But no, I am leaving this open-ended to see where the research takes me. It goes against my typical “leave-all-the-hard-work-until-the-last-minute” attitude and is pushing me to stay on track with one idea instead of trying to do too many things at once, which is my tendency. Basically, this project is the perfect balance of being a large personal challenge and at the same time, gives me the magical opportunity to explore something I am truly and deeply curious about. It may be a broad idea, but it is also just focused enough for me to have something tangible to sink my hands into right away.
As a marking point for the beginning of this adventure, I wrote down a quote in my new blank notebook. It is from this beautiful little book of essays by Jeanette Winterson, Art [Objects]:
“The true artist is interested in the art object as an art process, the thing in being, the being of the thing, the struggle, the excitement, the energy, that have found expression in a particular way. The true artist is after the problem. The false artist wants it solved (by somebody else).
If the true artist is connected, then he or she has much to give us because it is connection that we seek.”
In all of this personal work that I am taking on, I want to hold these words close to the heart of it. Focus on the problems at hand and find the beauty in struggling through- not seeking concrete answers, but more connections. Allowing contradictions to arise and letting the energy of it all take me into unknown territory.
So here I go, taking the first baby steps up a mountain where the top is shrouded in haze and clouds. The next several weeks will consist of reading the books I’ve gathered on the subject, collecting other material and resources, and pushing to officially launch the podcast (in early April, fingers crossed). This blog space and my connecting social media will be used as platforms to share the patient and steady unfolding of this project- because that is really what it is all about. The creative process of creating a project about process. Get ready to hear the word process quite a lot.
Side note: If you have any books, films, articles, podcasts, or other resources that address the art and study of conversations and communication, please send them my way. I am open to suggestions and recommendations.