If you haven't already been over there, check out Connie's new site at Dirty Footprints Studio--art, yoga, enthusiasm. It's a very inspiring page, with lots of pictures of paint pots and crayons and ideas for jump starting your creativity. She calls it your creative, juicy life. It's a lot of fun to read and just makes you want to surround yourself with art supplies and draw.
So, it's great timing for me, as I'm starting my first design project in years (six, to be exact). I'm very curious to see how the confluence of motherhood, yoga and costumes comes together. It's a really wonderful project; a collaboration with a dance professor at Beloit College who took a group of students to Tanzania to work at a school for AIDS orphans, called The Peace House. These are African teenagers who have applied to attend the boarding school, and who receive training to do such things as teach and help set up small businesses in their home villages. Chris and her dancers worked with these kids for a week, exploring ways to use movement and dance as a way to communicate and teach.
I didn't get to go to Africa (phooey), but I have been working with Chris upon her return--reacting to extensive photo documentation and collecting additional imagery as she begins the tricky process of turning her experience into choreography. This is my favorite part of any design project--trying to convert an emotional, ephemeral jumble of ideas into a concrete reality. A watchable production. It's probably the art historian in me, but I just can't get enough of listening to other artists try to describe their influences and, together, figuring out how to translate these thoughts into a new piece.
And then I have to express that with the clothes. I've never done dance before, but I've always found it very compelling. The design is essential to the realization of the piece because the costumes are one of the dancers' props. They emphasize movement, or hinder it, or make bigger (imagine a shaking flapper without her fringe). So the designer has to really understand the choreographers' intention and work closely as the dance develops to make sure the garments serve the final product.
We've had a couple of really exciting conversations in the last few weeks. Watching (and helping) Chris start to "unlock" this dance has been so gratifying...something I have missed. I look at Connie's blog and it makes me so happy to wearing my artist's hat (beret?) again.
If my past experience is any indicator, yoga is going to be extremely important to the process--stress reliever, brain releaser, calming device. And then there's the boys--how have these little monkeys changed my approach? I assume I'll be able to keep the whole thing in perspective a bit better (if you have to step away to remove a splinter, wipe up a chewed crayon, rescue a cat from a remote-controlled tarantula, you can't get too worked up about leotard choices). But I wonder what else has changed.
Exciting. Intriguing. Juicy.