Thursday, October 30, 2014

Getting Great Ideas!

What a great idea!

Great ideas, I've realized are what separates good shows from great shows. I am willing to bet that of all the times spent on shows: choreo, song selection, set building, costume selection, rehearsing, special fx, emoting..that less time is spent on thinking up a good idea than any of the above. And yet, great ideas are what has the greatest impact on what I come away with. What makes a performance stick in my mind? What makes it memorable?

We've heard from Baby's popular post (Feeling uninspired? Need some ideas?offering ideas on how to get ideas, and an arousing trail of 9 comments to Kat's blog on Is Dance in SL Art?

I saw a recent show that really impressed me and made me rethink what makes good shows. I am now thinking that more than "payoffs", packaged tricks you can do, that what truly separates the good from the great is "fresh ideas". 

Not a big stage. A troupe of 3. Not glitz. Even lightly attended. No pre-show hype. Didn't say they were the 'best'. No Las Vegas glitz. Just great song selection, great dance selections, an approach that made you cock your head and go whoa. Sometimes you see a big production and go ...'just ok', and wonder why its packed, and then on occasion see 'a little show, lightly attended and go...ok this feels awkward...this theater should be packed. I dunno. I dunno. What the heck do I know?

It was just different. Not your typical Halloween show and its easy to get into the "rut of dancing at gravesites". Yep I even had a routine where I thoughtI was cool doing my Thriller dance on a grave about innovation...NOT duh!.  

And of course those types of great shows make you go shuffling back to your drawing board in your basement scratching your head asking yourself, "Why can't i create like that? And swearing your next creation WILL be as note-worthy. 

There is more to it than the trite formulaic offering that I proposed way back 'razzle dazzle them', 

Razzle dazzle 'em
And they;ll never catch wise!
Give 'em the old Razzle Dazzle
Razzle dazzle 'em
Give 'em a show that's so splendiferous
Row after row will grow vociferous
Give 'em the old flim flam flummox
Fool and fracture 'em
How can they hear the truth above the roar

Chicago The Musical 

...all though i do believe some honest razz-a-dazz is a component of the 'all of it'.

But I am now more influenced by an article from Issac Asimov How Do People Get New Ideas?

What seems important is that conditions be "intentionaly" provided such that we have a hugely improved chance of "getting new ideas".

Here are some key excerpted points that took away from this article:

I propose increasing your knowledge of the subject matter,if you are not already a subject matter expert. Maybe do some extra research on "it" and add a new spin on an old record, based on what he says here...

"the person who is most likely to get new ideas is a person of good background in the field of interest and one who is unconventional in his habits. (To be a crackpot is not, however, enough in itself.)" 

I am wagering that, like he suggests below, you will have best success if your efforts on 'the idea' be devoloped in "isolotion". Walk alone.

"Do you want to bring them together so that they may discuss the problem mutually, or should you inform each of the problem and allow them to work in isolation?"

"My feeling is that as far as creativity is concerned, isolation is required. The creative person is, in any case, continually working at it. His mind is shuffling his information at all times, even when he is not conscious of it." 

"The presence of others can only inhibit this process, since creation is embarrassing. For every new good idea you have, there are a hundred, ten thousand foolish ones, which you naturally do not care to display."

Now what he states below is something I presumed and has been at the core of my works over the past 4 years. Offering people interconnecting 'blocks' to allow them to find associations and combinations to create anew from old. And people can combine each others combinations into even new combinations. 

"Furthermore, the information may not only be of individual items A and B, but even of combinations such as A-B, which in themselves are not significant. However, if one person mentions the unusual combination of A-B and another unusual combination A-C, it may well be that the combination A-B-C, which neither has thought of separately, may yield an answer."

Yes. take the time to state the facts, including the obvious. Then brainstorm associations and combinations without fear of ridicule. 
"It seems to me then that the purpose of cerebration sessions is not to think up new ideas but to educate the participants in facts and fact-combinations, in theories and vagrant thoughts."

I think the most important part of this new approach is state-of-mind. It must be loose, carefree, of reckless abandon, frivolous, cantankerous, free-spirited, freely-associating, non-nonsensical, Alice-In-Wonderland-ish. While not promoting it, I wouldn't be surprised if many of the great creations have come while someone was 'under the influence', legal-or-not, of god knows what.
"should be a feeling of informality. Joviality, the use of first names, joking, relaxed kidding are, I think, of the essence—not in themselves, but because they encourage a willingness to be involved in the folly of creativeness." 
Repeating, the best way to avoid disapproval is to work alone. But if the choice is to collaborate then the rules-of-engagement should state that anything goes. Time-out on critiquing. No thought-stopping negatives. Let the process play out. No saying 'that wont work because' or 'we know that will never happen', as that idea that seems idiotic to you may be just a stepping stone to the 'real great idea coming up subsequently.

 "there must be ease, relaxation, and a general sense of permissiveness. The world in general disapproves of creativity, and to be creative in public is particularly bad. Even to speculate in public is rather worrisome. The individuals must, therefore, have the feeling that the others won’t object".

Maybe even being intent on being outlandish, the edges of a twilight zone. Force yourself to be crazy, off-center, if that is NOT your normal comfort zone. Try and make others laugh if that's what it takes to 'sound foolish' as he says below.

"all people at a session be willing to sound foolish and listen to others sound foolish."

If one person is dominating a group cerebration and you feel stifled then i suggest you politely dismiss yourself and go about the process solo.

"if a single individual present has a much greater reputation than the others, or is more articulate, or has a distinctly more commanding personality, he may well take over the conference and reduce the rest to little more than passive obedience. The individual may himself be extremely useful, but he might as well be put to work solo, for he is neutralizing the rest."

Sure 5 sounds like a reasonable limit on a cerebration session.

"I should guess that no more than five would be wanted." 

I really like the idea of having non-conventional meeting places as he suggests. If in SL, then maybe at a club, relaxing jazz club maybe or at an art gallery. Form a conference.

"a meeting in someone’s home or over a dinner table at some restaurant is perhaps more useful than one in a conference room."

I think, from group cerebration, the best ideas might come from those from who the least is expected for they've nothing to lose and everything to gain. I think I will start asking those for ideas from whom those from whom we might, on the surface, expect the least, maybe because they are usually quiet and non-contributing without some prying and encouragement.

"The great ideas of the ages have come from people who weren't paid to have great ideas, but were paid to be teachers or patent clerks or petty officials, or were not paid at all. The great ideas came as side issues."

"To feel guilty because one has not earned one’s salary because one has not had a great idea is the surest way, it seems to me, of making it certain that no great idea will come in the next time either."
Well I don't have much more to add to this. Just offering up the idea to spend more time thinking about what you are going to do from a 'theme and spin' approach, before starting any of the other things. I suppose it could start with your initial motivator, often a song that you don't or tune mind listening to 100 times. 

Lat "Yummy" Lovenkraft