Building creativity and consistency

Some notes about Twyla Tharp and her book

When people around me discuss creativity and creative workers, I often hear them portraying that those two entities are closely knitted to an unstructured life. Through the years, I have been familiar with the notion that activities that are identical to art are created purely under a chaotic yet exquisite circumstance. Yet, my recent trajectory of life taught me the opposite situation. Becoming a part of the community that integrates both art and science led me to understand the important intersection between creativity and consistency.

Twyla Tharp is a New York-based dancer and choreographer who discovered the beauty in the rhythmical body moves since her childhood days. She graduated from Barnard College in 1963 prior to establishing her dancing company. Today she is known for her ability in combining jazz, ballet, and boxing. In her book — which title is “The Creative Habit” — Tharp shared her first-hand experiences and ideas as a creative worker who has been staying in the dance field for more than fifty years.

Tharp described that in her life she combined creativity and consistency to pursue her goals. Working in the art domain has trained Tharp about the depth and breadth of understanding the context of her works without losing her soul. To maintain her focus, she incorporated a daily habit (including commuting) that she could sustain. Moreover, even though her work might be only in the form of a short duration on-stage performance, Tharp strived to do extensive learning and planning. Other than referencing artists from the dancing world alone, Tharp did a great job in promoting ‘fat’ reading, in which she encouraged readers to discover more references that are related to the main reading material(s).

Another interesting element in her book is her idea about “thinking outside the box” which sounds very common to me. According to Tharp, before someone decides to think out of the box, that person must have the ‘box’ first. Tharp interpreted to box both literally and figuratively. In her way, the ‘box’ refers to understanding the context as well as having a dedicated box to store the resources that are related to her works.

In my opinion, Tharp already did a great job in explaining to her readers who hard (and smart) work to her is. As a person who is often labeled as a part of the instant generation, this book was a reminder that the success of an artist that society sees today is only the tip of an iceberg. Other than that, this book has also a role in demystifying the stereotype of creative workers. Nonetheless, I do hope that Tharp could deliver her messages in shorter narrations by focusing on herself only instead of making them redundant by adding plenty of references that influenced her works from the beginning.

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reader, writer.

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Jennie Yuwono

Jennie Yuwono

reader, writer.

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