I have been asked many times: "What inspires you?" I get this question mainly from students and fellow dancers.
Over the years, my answer has changed When I first started choreographing, I didn't really know what inspired me. I guess it was really the music and/or the concert or theme. I choreographed by a formula I made sure I covered everything I learned in school. My pieces were good but boring. I was young, and thought every piece had to be done by some choreographic formula I'd learned in school.
As I got older, more seasoned, I began to notice a shift in my style. I wasn't so worried about formulas, and making sure all the choreographic elements were there. I allowed myself to choreograph more from my heart than my mind. I let my inspiration lead the choreography, rather than making my formulaic choreography fit the inspiration. Now, I always start with the inspiration.
So, what does inspire me now? Life inspires me. Music, love, experiences, feelings, dreams. All these can, and do become inspiration for me.
I use dance as my outlet. Choreographing becomes cathartic.
Sometimes, I'll be driving and hear a song on the radio, and know I have to choreograph to that song. It has touched me in some way that I have to get the thoughts and feelings I'm having out. I have to let the song move me physically through space.
Others times, an event or experience will lead me to the studio. Something so moving, I have to artistically represent it in order to move through the feelings I'm having. This has happened just a few times, and these pieces probably mean the most to me. They are the most personal.
Most recently, I was searching for a piece for my modern 2 class to do. I wanted to do something to spoken word, either a poem or prose. I was researching different things online, and I came across a reading of the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley, read by Morgan Freeman. In the movie, Freeman plays Nelson Mandela. The poem was Mandela's favorite poem, and it inspired him. Freeman's reading, and the words of the poem, inspired me to choreograph an all male piece. I got so many compliments on that piece. I was moved by the poem, by the idea of this poem, these words, inspiring a man to freedom for all.
Having all the men in our company on stage together, moving to this poem, showing their individual and unified strength. It was beautiful.
Anything and everything can inspire you. From a song to an experience to a poem to nature to life itself. Allow the inspiration to move you. Allow it to lead you where you need to go. Let the inspiration flow through you and pour out of you. This is what leads to greatness. This is what leads to purity and honesty. And that, my friend, is what moves people.