Finding Inspiration

Last week I posed the following question on Instagram: "what, or who, inspires your movement style?" I received a range of responses from you, which can be boiled down into the following themes: emotions/words and people/beings.

From a photographer's perspective, I am always interested in knowing what prompts the wide range of movement styles amidst aerialists and dancers as photos are a direct result of these styles, and therefore the inspirations behind them. From an aerialist's perspective, inspiration puts meaning behind my movements and is the difference between something being a “trick” and a visual expression.

With the above being said, I am a big believer in finding something or someone to be inspired by no matter where you are in your training, level-wise. It doesn't take away from your originality as an artist and can be a great catalyst for unlocking new ranges of expression. Inspiration is also an excellent remedy for feelings of being "stuck" or "unmotivated," which no artist is immune to and which can be somewhat debilitating for creativity.

So, how do we go about finding inspiration if it is not something that comes to us naturally? A couple of suggestions... 

1. Think of adjectives that resonate with you as a person/performer, and write them down. Examples can be "weird, creepy, dark" as @flying.steph.catfriend mentioned on my post, as well as ethereal, graceful, scary, playful, funny, stunning, etc etc. The next time you train or create an act, pick one of the words you wrote down and set a goal to emulate that word via your movement to the best of your ability. The next step up from this would be to pick 2 contrasting words (like creepy and funny, for instance), and run through the same sequence twice, once being inspired by creepy, and once being inspired by funny. Write down how it felt to move to each, and which one resonated more.

The lovely Chanel. Our shoot was inspired by terms like “weird,” “unique,” and “strange”

The lovely Chanel. Our shoot was inspired by terms like “weird,” “unique,” and “strange”

I also loved @jennfuse ‘s response of “exploring contrast... tension and release, contraction and expansion, attack and surrender." These are all words that are embedded with movement already, and combining opposites makes for incredibly dynamic styles of movement.

2. Pull from an emotion you are experiencing currently, or may have experienced recently, that was profound enough to express through movement. Emotion serves as one of the main impetus' of the way that we perform and can be a significant source of inspiration. For example, "joy" may turn into lighter, quicker movements done with a smile on the face, whereas "sorrow" may become slower, more drawn out movements, or even thrash-y depending on the way that it's interpreted. If you can't pull emotion from a recent experience, you can absolutely pull it from music. Pick 3 songs that make you feel something, or that you like the emotion of, and try to imagine how you would move to match that feeling.

Maya’s expression here conveys emotions of happiness, peace and a glimmer of excitement

Maya’s expression here conveys emotions of happiness, peace and a glimmer of excitement

3. Find people whose movement excites you makes you feel inspired when you watch them. Now, I'm not saying mimic them exactly, but rather take one aspect of their movement that you find interesting, and then play with ways to make it your own. Here are some of the people that you mentioned inspire you on my post:

Monika Ell
Xin Ying
Bekah Burke
Ohad Naharin

Note that this does not have to be limited to people, either. Other beings, such as mammals, birds, fish and insects, can also inspire movement and can make for really fascinating shapes and transitions. Take Kyla, pictured below, for example. as a contortionist, she is already very connected to the control of her body. When I asked her during a shoot where she pulls inspiration from, her answer was "animals!" This brought a huge smile to my face and really influenced the shoot in an amazing way. 


Whether you are performing, participating in a photoshoot, or just training for yourself, having an inspiration will have an immense positive impact the quality of the experience and the outcome. The source of inspiration can, and should, change as much as you want it to. let me know how the sources of your inspiration have impacted your aerial or dance in the comments below. I look forward to reading what you have to say! 

Until next time!