By NICOLE KLAYMOON, dancer, choreographer, storyteller, and artistic director of a local dance company called Embodiment Project. Nicole is a student in the Creative Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Arts MFA program.
This post was written as an assignment for professor Cindy Shearer’s CIA 7091: MFA Interdisciplinary Arts Workshop. As part of a community of artists working across art perspectives, students in this course get the chance to teach each other about their art form(s), practice, lineage and influences, and are challenged to inquire into the interdisciplinary arts as well as forms new to them.
Making art is like giving birth. Once the idea is set in motion the art becomes an entity separate from myself. It is one of my greatest challenges to get out of my own way and honor what the art wants to communicate. In my ever-evolving identity as a text-based dance maker, I have conceived my own definitions of the following artistic values: time, space, emotionality, embodiment, channeling, and duality. These concepts guide and support me as one of the many creative midwives of this dimension.
I am drawn to create art that offers an alternate way to experience time that is not linear. I often lose my sense of time passing while I am immersed in the creative process just like in the dream world. There is a difference between “timing” and using time as a space holder. Timing is cyclical and in rhythm with the seasons. I know that I am in line with my destiny when my timing draws out impeccable coincidence or a déjà-vu.
Space is air, listening, stillness, nuance, and a willingness to exist inside of the unknown. I am governed by the idea that space is a distance that can be measured in the external world. However, in my art-making process space is my ability to listen and allow an idea to immerge from inside and exist without definition.
You can train a dancer in technique but you cannot teach them passion and heart. It is either there or it is not. Emotionality or E-motion is E(energy)-in-motion. I interpret soulfulness as art that invokes feeling; the souls attempt to make sound. It is my responsibility as an artist to give voice and value to my emotional truths and to take the risk to be seen for who I truly am.
Embodiment is when the artist calls forth lost parts of the self or unearths memory from their sub-conscience mind. When a performer embodies their authentic expression there is an alchemical process that is witnessed and shared with the audience members. This symbiotic relationship can have the same healing effects of a shamanic soul retrieval. When a performer’s emotional truth is expressed creatively and validated by an audience, it becomes more fully embodied in the performer. This is the process of reclaiming parts of one’s true essence.
Opposite from embodiment, channeling is a hosting an external entity or spirit in one’s physical body. This can occur when an artist becomes a conduit for someone else’s story. Gary Snyder suggests that artist and writers are often the vessel for nature spirits. “Anciently this was a shamanistic role where the singer, dancer or storyteller embodied a force, appearing as a bear dancer or a crane dancer, and became one with a spirit or creature. Today, such a role is played by the writer who finds herself a spokesperson for non-human entities, communicating to the human realm through dance or song. This could be called ‘speaking on behalf of nature’ in the old way.”
Every great story must include some sort of conflict or challenge. Duality is the understanding that the struggle is the pathway back to realization—the joy lies in the overcoming or breakthrough. Both the dark and light are two aspects of the same coin. While we don’t want to suffer over our suffering, we cannot understand the light without a dark shadow to contrast it.