A guest post by Erin Nichole Boyt, Artistic Director of Version Excursion Dance
“I could never do anything like that! I’m just not very creative.” The number of times I have heard this phrase uttered from the mouths of friends, family, and complete strangers is absolutely heartbreaking. And. . . I totally get it. In fact, I’ve said it to myself myriad times.
When I was a dance major in college, I had a particular post-midterm meeting with my advisor that I will never forget. She sat me down, let out a sigh, and gave me a look that told me I did not want to hear what she was about to say.
“You will never have a career in dance,” she said. “Your ballet technique simply isn’t good enough. You didn’t start training early enough, and at this age, you won’t be able to catch up. I strongly suggest you choose a different major.” Those words completely obliterated my tender little 19-year-old soul. I went home, packed away my dance shoes, and vowed I would never step into a studio again.
Fast forward a decade or so, and I have been Artistic Director of my dance company, Version Excursion, for eight years. I have curated dance festivals, produced dozens of performances, collaborated with award-winning artists, directed dance films and music videos, received residencies, and spoken on panels.
Screw you, Advisor Whose Name I Don’t Even Remember.
It took me years to figure out that mastery of a technique is not what makes someone an artist. It took even longer to figure out that I had an extreme aversion to ballet and that I had been defining my entire artistic identity on the merits of something I didn’t even like. It took me longer still to accept that my own creative power is far greater than the sum of my accomplishments.
If you’ve ever said those words to yourself, I hereby give you permission to put the self-deprecating microphone down because I promise you it is 100% not true.
Wanna know how I know?
Because every single person on the planet has creativity! We are designed this way, and there is a whole slew of research in evolutionary biology to back that up. (In fact, Time Magazine dedicated an entire special edition to the subject, and National Geographic has some things to say about it as well.)
Sometimes, we’re told we don’t have it.
Sometimes we can’t see it in ourselves.
Sometimes it simply hasn’t been tapped into.
But we all have it.
Creativity has been in our brains and in our blood for as long as humans have been around. It comes in as many shapes, sizes, patterns, and colors as there are people in the world, so it’s impossible that there could be a “right” way to do it.
If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to try one creative thing today. Spend 5 minutes doodling. Write a haiku. Get some PlayDough. I don’t care what it is or what it looks like- just spend 5 minutes with your muse and see how it feels.
Let me know how it goes!