It hits us all at some point in our lives: a creative blockade. In this blog post, we'll look at what inspiration means, where it comes from and how you can use social media like Instagram as a source of inspiration rather than a waste of time. Inspired yet? Keep on reading.
I am stuck.
Just when you need to create a new dance combination, an original choreography, you feel suddenly totally uninspired and blocked. That's at least what I, a professional dancer and choreographer, often struggle with. Producing satisfactory new material can be really frustrating. Don't worry, you are not alone. It happens to everyone. It is an inevitable part of any creative process. We all recognize this feeling very well. It is totally normal to lose your inspiration, so no need for panic. It happens even to the most creative and most advanced dancers. However, the more experienced you are, the more tools you have got to help you to get through the feeling of creative blockage.
And of course, there are many methods to tackle this problem. I don't say I know the perfect solution. I know, however, that we spend an average of 2h 16 min daily on social media. And since we dedicate so much time to what's on our mobile phones, we should make sure that this time is well spent. After all, the Internet is what you make of it. Looking at the right visual content may not only help you with unlocking your creative blockade but also show you things you have never thought they existed ( just like photos of ballet dancers with dogs). And let's not exclude the possibility that your Instagram post may also become an inspiration to someone else.
What is inspiration anyway?
Inspiration originates from the Latin word inspirare, meaning to breathe or blown in to, which in the early English has been used to portray a divine or supernatural being, someone who could 'impart a truth or idea to someone.' The concept of inspiration for a long time was a divine matter. In ancient religions, the enthusiasm to create, derived from muses and gods, while Christianity saw inspiration as a gift from the Holy Spirit.
For those who don't believe in anything spiritual, Oxford dictionary gives a more down to earth definition and describes inspiration as "a process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative." I would say that this is a pretty accurate description. I don't believe that inspiration comes as a sudden struck of ideas or is sent to us from the gods. It also can not be forced on us. It is indeed an internal, individual process that naturally motivates us to create anything from dance trough drawings to a new recipe for a tandoori chicken.
Why should we consider Instagram as a source of inspiration?
As I wrote above, social media has already become such an integral part of everyday life that we should start learning how to use it in the most beneficial way. When people tell me that Instagram is a waste of time because it is dominated by selfies and picture-perfect content of beautiful people, I tell them that it does not have to be. And not because it is entirely untrue what they are saying. It is because they probably follow different accounts than I do.
But first, however, I have to agree that social media can project certain images of lifestyles, looks, events, places, and create therefore unrealistic expectations among many of us. Theresa Ruth Howard wrote about it in her article for Dance Magazine. She argues that the majority of content we see devalues the art of dance. Perfect bodies, the flexibility we can just dream off, tricks, and all the visual candy, which generates more likes, do not show the essence of movement. This dance erotica in Howard's eyes is too extreme, unrealistic, and therefore not useful. Accordingly, many psychological studies suggest the negative effect of social media such as dissatisfaction, negative body image and loneliness. These are things, of course, we cannot ignore. So, I would say, choose wisely what you like and follow, because Instagram's algorithms can show you the world that you won't be able to compete with.
But there are other, more positive sides to dance content on Instagram, which I want to cherish here. First of all, I believe Instagram helps enormously in the familiarization of dance to a more general public. Dance performances, often appearing as an exclusive art form of elites, have always been struggling to get more audience into the theaters. Don't we want more engagement, conversation, critique to ensure we as dancers or dance makers make an impact on people's imagination? Instagram dance accounts won't necessarily bring more people to theaters, but they can definitely spark interest and make more people fall in love with dance.
Second of all, Instagram can work as an endless source of inspiration. Let's be real: dance has never been more accessible. Prior to those new technologies, besides going to the theater, we could watch dance only on TV and DVDs. But well, if you got lucky, you could maybe see the ballet version of Nutcracker on a Christmas day. Isn't it amazing that now at any time of the day or night we can see people dancing? We can find a grandpa dancing at a party, fathers joining their daughter in a ballet class, or have a sneak peek of backstage life of the best dancers in the world. And although it is not the same as a live performance, we can be grateful to social media for the worldwide library of dance content.
So… who should I follow on Instagram to get inspired?
Many dance teachers post their classes and combinations on social media, so you can use it as a free source of fresh inputs. And don't get me wrong. Unless you are a beginner, I do not encourage you to copy a whole combination – not even mentioning the legal consequences it might bring. It's more about those little things you should pay attention to. Maybe you can get inspired by the music someone has used, you may want to try an exciting transition you have noticed, or perhaps the dynamics of the movements are different than you are usually using in your dance. But most likely, an inspiring video should simply give you a new pair of wings to hit the studio and create. Instagram can inspire you to dance more, take more classes and become better.
To be honest, what or who to follow depends mostly on your personal preferences. The only tip I can give you is to follow those who interest you and are worth your scrolling time. Personally, I am searching for content that is somehow different, something that moves and surprises me. Also, try not to limit yourself only to dance accounts. There is so much more to get inspired from.
For modern dance enthusiasts we recommend these Instagram accounts.
- Freya Pauwels The energy of this Belgian dancer is contagious.
- Justin De Jager See some movement poetry.
If you're a hip hop lover, then check out these feeds.
- Sherrie Silver Get inspired by MTV VMA award-winning choreographer She does not only move like a beast but also supports good causes.
- James Derrick is a dance and music producer. His Insta wall is full of well-edited and fun videos.
And then also something for everyone to get those creative juices flowing.
- Yvonne Smink This account is something that might surprise you.
- The Red List offers lots of inspiring visual art content.
Check out some of Artship's partner teachers' accounts. They are just as inspiring as the courses they teach.
Are you inspired yet?
If not, take our tips to heart and keep on browsing through your Instagram a bit longer or take a look at the inspiring courses offered by our partner teachers. They will for sure inspire you and help you to explore some tools how to apply creativity for your daily live.
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