While some artists are known for maintaining rituals in their creative processes, many are known for the opposite – making art when the muses move them. I made a creative ritual for myself this past spring, putting me in the former category. Every Saturday morning I walked down to the pond between the Lincoln and Washington monuments and snapped photographs. I would shoot runners, the adorable ducks living in the pond, trees and their shadows – anything that caught my eye. With its meeting of the natural and man-made, the location is full of intriguing photographic possibility. I only hoped that I could do all that possibility justice; I only have a little bit of independent experience with photography, having never taken a class or worked in a darkroom.
Photographic images have always interested me, however. Even in dance, the art form that I’ve devoted far more attention and energy towards, I love to dance and choreographic still images, poses, and geometric shapes. Photography has even helped me to enhance this interest. When I would walk down to that pond and shoot, I could see how pictures capture one moment in the continuous cycle of energy that is life. I could then apply this new understanding to dancing and choreographing. My dancing and choreography began to let that continuous energy flow through it more than it ever had before, while still in my habitual still-image mode. My movement became more natural, easy, and aesthetically pleasing as a result. Many artists similarly recognize how engaging in separate art forms can complement one’s abilities with one or both of those forms.
My Saturday morning ritual also became catharsis for me, as creating art can often be. The walk was meditative and peaceful, with few people up and outside that early on the weekend. I would mouth a quick “hi” to the occasional passing runner, and be glad that I didn’t have to deal with shoulder-to-shoulder crowds. Beyond that even, my weekly ritual was a comforting constant in an otherwise consistently changing life. Rehearsals and performances always change, as do approaches towards and scheduling of academic work. That being said, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think that a completely regular schedule, without a break in the monotony, would drive me insane.
Torrential rain or snow would occasionally make me have to re-schedule, or an early rehearsal would mean that I would have to cut my walk short. For the most part, though, I could depend on being able to take my walk/shoot every weekend. All I needed was myself, good walking shoes, and my camera – and, oh yes, the essential tumbler full of coffee (it was early). I could simply enjoy being creative and physically active – out of bed, off of my computer, and out of the library. No one to judge me but myself. No one to please or rubric criteria to meet. No phrase of choreography that I just can’t seem to get. No slow internet connections or malfunctioning printers. Just me, the ducks, the trees, the water, and my camera. Click. Swoosh. Quack. Not a bad way to start the weekend, I say.
Kathryn Boland is a rising Senior at the George Washington University, majoring in Dance. She is also minoring in Art History, Theater, and English. Originally from Newport, Rhode Island, she is fascinated with anything and everything artistic. A former intern, she is currently an editorial assistant for Bourgeon.