Part Two: ReflectionIn looking at my own creativity and creative process, I would agree that it is often helpful to analyze what makes something creative. Defining creative products along the proposed, “New, Effective and Whole” criteria could be a way to reduce the perception of subjectivity in a world of grey matter known as "Performance Assessment".
As an educator who relies almost solely on performance assessments as the means of measuring student achievement and progress, this system provides a conceptual framework which could be used in the creation of rubrics and other assessment tools. Too often, teachers are afraid of “drawing outside the lines” when creating performance assessments/projects for students to explore content; and sometimes it is because they don’t know how they can objectively evaluate it! Furthermore, it is even more difficult to evaluate the particularly “creative” aspects of a student creation in terms that are quantitative and qualitative, and which provide meaningful, detailed feedback for students and their future growth.
In analyzing each piece of the NEW framework separately, the three areas seem to cover all aspects of what I would look for in a student’s choreographic work. Like my interview subject, it is easiest for me to analyze and use the framework within a specific context, and for me that would be either my choreographic process, or that of my students. Right now, I am brewing concepts and ideas for our annual dance concert in February, and several dance pieces have already inspired me to begin generating ideas and specific movements. In looking at current and previous creative processes, it is always some re-mixing and re-purposing of ideas which provide inspiration and creative flow. These may be abrupt, or connected to some other part of my life or daily living, but they are certainly obvious when they hit me. These moments of truth are unexpected, and unpredictable, and form the basis of a new idea. Also connected to the “Novel” aspect of creation, are the ways in which disparate items become combined, juxtaposed, or crossed, in a way that is organic and obvious, natural or weirdly poetic.
In thinking about “Effective”-ness with respect to the choreographic process, this relates most clearly to me to Laban’s eight efforts, which provide a way of conceiving the essence of movement. This is a massive part of how my inspiration becomes visceral, real, and tangible in the form of a moving expression. All movement is said to come from the “centre”, and when proper flow exists, it is uniquely expressive in the quality of force. This is something like tonal quality in music, providing detail in expression beyond mere mechanics. This “effort” in a dancer is what creates clarity, and makes the movement understandable and connected to the meaning of the piece or the greater whole. Great dance is also characterized like other forms of art as being useful, effective, and clear in its presentation of an idea or an emotion, and this is something I strive for in my creative process.
The “Whole” part of the NEW framework also rings true with my experience as a performer and choreographer, and cannot be separated from the other two afore-mentioned elements of creative work. Included in this aspect of the creative process is the context, the audience, and the relative success of the novelty and its efficiency in communicating the idea clearly. In order to be clear, the piece must be finished, unless that is the purpose, to be “unfinished” for a reason. In terms of the design process, this aspect of evaluation could be defined further by whether the central problem or question has been answered or solved. Or has there been a clear statement, question, or idea posed? In creating this clarity, the artist must unify all aspects of the creative work, by manipulating and changing the details until it is just right. Elements of style, variety, intensity, dynamics, are all part of the creation of the finished product.
Looking at my own creative process has revealed several insights:
1). First, my best ideas come to me in a flash and often when I am not trying to invent or create anything. For this purpose, I need to attempt to capture these creative insights at the moment of inspiration, as I have found that when I wait too long, they are lost. 2.) Secondly, my second best ideas come from re-working and adapting my original ideas. This is particularly true when I have “forced” some creative inspiration due to pressure, limitations, or other external forces such as deadlines.