Thursday 2 August 2007
I was just thinking about how much I like the limitations of this project - the fact that every single drawing has to fit into an 11 x 22 cm rectangle is quite freeing.
In her superb book, The Creative Habit, choreographer Twyla Tharp tells a story about the trap of unlimited resources. She had been invited to make a ballet at the prestigious New York City Ballet and had the whole company put at her disposal for 4 weeks. Faced with such riches, she made mistake after mistake:
"I was like a kid in a toy store. I wanted to get every dancer I'd admired at NYCB into my ballet. I pushed some very accomplished soloists to dance in ensembles, which they considered demeaning."
She details many more problems with the project, most of which stemmed from this sense that there were no boundaries and that she could do anything in the world that she wanted.
"I could see that it wasn't working very well. Here is where the sense of obligation kicked in: I couldn't just throw out all the work we had done, because that would mean erasing two weeks of the entire company's time, which is worth a fortune. I felt obliged to the people proving me with all these remarkable resources not to have wasted them."
She ended up with a piece of work that was OK but she knew it could have been much better. To perfectly illustrate the point, her next commission was done under extremely stringent restrictions but resulted in a work that she considers the most satisfying of her career.
So there can be a real freedom to boundaries: if you have too many options you can either freeze or find yourself treading well known paths just for the sense of security they give you. Like filling in the edges of a jigsaw before you do the middle, defining the limits of your project can free up your mind to be more creative.
Posted: 11.48pm on 25.7.07