The Act of Creation – Kill of the Night, Post #4

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted on my progress creating the dance for Kill of the Night.  Some updates:

I’ve never documented my progress on a dance before, and I tell you, I’ve learned a lot from this.  The experiences during this process weren’t new to me, but really looking at how I get from point A to Z, no sugar coating, no excuses is really mind opening.

I think when I started writing about the act of creation for this dance, I had 2 weeks before the first practice.  TWO WEEKS.  Now, that wasn’t because of crazy deadlines for the show, that’s because that’s when I started to get serious about it.

Lesson #1 – yes, I’ve had amazing dances come together in days.  That’s the exception.  I have a horrible habit of underestimating how much time something will take, and assuming everything will flow smoothly.


creative process foff

Don’t do this! ~ experience

Ok, two weeks is the time I allowed myself.  For a dance, at a venue where I always push myself and where the show is a cohesive story told through all the acts.  Some of my most creative breakthroughs have been for this venue and have always taken an extreme amount of time as I push my limits and smash through them.  Yeah, two weeks…uh huh.

Lesson #2 – when planning how long a dance will take, also look at the complexity of the dance.  This one actually has two pieces of music and basically two separate dances that have to be stitched together, along with the choreo, the movers, etc…because it will be one routine in the end.  That alone could take a week to do right and test it thoroughly.

Well, after some creative blocks, bumps in the road, and days I just had no ambition to work on dance, I finished the choreography.  Overall I’m really happy with the choreography.  I know it will need some tweaks and I will change it a bit to reflect what’s going on with the set (like climbing up the ladder).

Lesson #3 – make a rough schedule of what needs to be done, penciling in when you’ll hit those checkpoints for finishing pieces of the dance, like picking animations, roughing out choreo, building the set, finalizing the costume.  I didn’t make a schedule of things to do.  I had a list, but time easily slips away without a timeline.  Don’t make it so rigid that the schedule feels like work or creates anxiety….but it’s good to have checkpoints or a roadmap so you don’t get stuck along the way.

Funny story – when I was choreographing one of my first dances ever, I was doing a song to Grease – set outside where some of the dancers were sitting at lunch tables.  I spent three days getting the lunch trays right.  I even contacted the creator of the milk carton on a lunch tray because it wasn’t mod after rezzing the lunch tray.  Everything else was, but not the milk carton.  Three frickin’ days…on the lunch tray!  Seriously.

While I worked on Kill of the Night, I had to keep fighting the feeling of being overwhelmed…which is the worst thing ever and sucks your creative juices right out of you.  It really wasn’t that I had too much on my schedule because other than some DJing and workshops, I’d taken May off.  It was that I set too tight a time frame for this dance, didn’t have a timeline, and didn’t remain focused.

I love when I’m in the rhythm of creating and can lose myself for hours.  Other times, it’s really intense bursts and I need to take a break, like a car with the rpm’s up near the red line.

Lesson #4 – plan into your timeline extra cushion so you can take creativity breaks when you need them.  A car can’t constantly run at max rpm’s, and neither can we- especially creatively.

Where am I now?  The set is done, choreo, mover work for the dance part.  Am I happy with it? It’s not all it could be.  The audition part I’m really happy with, I’d pretty much finished that 6 weeks ago.  I do still need to stitch it together.

Unfortunately, the show has been postponed for now due to things not related to SL directly.

My first thought when I heard this, after concern for the situation?  Yay, the pressure is eased off.  Second thought – that kind of thinking is what gets me into pressure situations.  There’s no reason my act can’t be the best it can be and completely ready for when the show is rescheduled.

Lesson #5 – if you are given a time reprieve – it’s not summer break!  Keep working and finish it.  If you’re not happy with it – keep working and get it right!  People will remember most the performance they just saw from you.  If it’s half-assed, people will notice.  They could even take it as lack of respect for the venue, or for the other choreographers who put their all into the dance and met their deadlines.

Ouch.  That one hurts, but it’s true isn’t it?  If I didn’t have any RL issues (which should always take precedence), and I didn’t meet my deadlines, isn’t that kind of disrespectful of others?  (talking to myself here…).  I’ve am so very grateful to those who have been patient with me, especially when there have been RL things going on, but I realize my responsibility too now and perhaps what my own actions say to others.

Lesson #6 – plan to have your dance completely wrapped up at least one week before the show, preferably the first practice if possible.  This gives extra cushion to tweak and reduces stress on performance day.

Some shows and venues will start practices two weeks before the show, so you might not have it completely wrapped up but hopefully close.  Some of my biggest dance glitches have been because I’ve run working on my dance up to the wire or hadn’t tested thoroughly.

I believe that to improve, sometimes we have to take a really good look at ourselves and really be honest with ourselves.  Sometimes, we are the biggest obstacle to achieving our goals and dreams.  If we face things head on, we can learn and hopefully break through and find satisfaction and success, however you define it.  I believe success, that feeling, comes from within, not from the outside.

I’m not beating myself up and I forgive myself for things I could’ve done better – that’s an unexpected benefit in doing this.  I will be the last person ever to say I’m “perfect” or “the best”.  Always striving and growing!  Just the way it should be in my book. 😉

I’m finding that I truly am deadline focused, motivated, but right now it’s the drop dead deadline…not such a good thing.  Lesson #6 will help, and my determination to stick to it.

Now what…

I’m still working!  I’m going to sit down this weekend and draft out a timeline with what I want to fix to make the dance all it can be.  I want it to be done, ready, and proud of it from the first performance!  I’m still really excited about this dance.  It’s funny to me, in sharing my method of creating this particular dance, it has instead I think (or hope) it has become a case study in a way….with lessons to take away from it.  I’ll keep posting on it now and then.

I’ve decided to use a new dance to blog my flow in creating.  This one I’m hoping to perform July 13th – 6 weeks away.  It’s not officially on the calendar yet, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to get that date.  Keep your eye out for the first post on Blind and Frozen!

Dance, creating a dance, in SL is truly so much more than just the performance isn’t it?

Creatively and respectfully yours,

~ Eva

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