HUMANS EXPRESS CREATIVITY in so many ways. North & Kedzie is all about helping us feel more comfortable expressing ourselves through our personal style. But there are thousands of other ways that we as humans transform our bodies into vehicles for personal expression. One of those ways is through dance.
My friend Miguel Angel Guzman has spent years honing his craft. While he lives in NYC at the moment, he's traveled and danced just about everywhere. Europe. The Middle East. You name it, he's probably danced there. His movements are mesmerizing. His spirit is inspiring. While I was in NYC, I had the privilege of photographing him. Here are a few thoughts on that experience and how it relates to our own journey towards better personal expression.
1) THINK. SET. RESET. || I'm not sure how it happens, but we often assume that the final creative form is the only form that has ever existed. Sure, we technically know that an author has an editor, a musical holds rehearsals, and a dancer develops a routine. But when we attempt to develop our own forms of personal expression, we don't give ourselves the space to experiment or reset. Watching Miguel move from pose to pose in front of my camera, I was struck by his process. Ahead of each new pose, he would take a few seconds to close his eyes and think through how his body would best fit into a particular space. When he settled on a pose in his mind, he used a fluid set of movements to enter into a pose. If the pose didn't feel right, he'd instinctively reset. No shame, no apologies. Just experimentation and groundedness. As we think about our own attempts to cultivate new forms of creative expression, we should extend that same patience and thoughtfulness towards ourselves. Sure, you may end up with half your closet on your bed (*stares at self), but who cares. It's part of the creative process, and the process is part of the journey.
2) DON'T BE AFRAID TO STAND OUT || Personal expression means taking the risk of putting yourself out there in front of others in some way, big or small. A lot of us are afraid of standing out in any form. We're worried about what people will think about us. We're afraid that we'll rock a boat. But if we're willing to take small risks, it becomes easier for us to take bigger risks. Take the photos in this post. This isn't some abandoned street on a closed television set. It's a random street in Greenwich Village. A street with cars passing through every minute or two. A street with groups of people walking up and down it freely. Sure, you can't see those people in the photos, but that's part of the illusion.
In reality, Miguel was posing in front of passing traffic and lingering pedestrians. I was crouched down or laying on dirty NYC asphalt for a lot of the shoot. I'm sure people thought we were crazy. If you're inspired by the result-if the final product moves you-then standing out was worth it. You'll never get 100% of people to care about your personal expression. But there will be some who do, and their life will benefit in some small way from your willingness to risk. That, IMHO, is worth the risk.