Julie Peoples-Clark is a dancer, choreographer, and teacher living in Burlington, Vermont with her family. She spoke with VDA for the Dancing Digitally project about the cathartic possibilities of dance work. She has also shared a creative exercise for the community to keep generating ideas, even when inspiration feels at a low.
For a sample of Julie’s work: https://vimeo.com/439992403/031d4e1f9b
Julie Peoples-Clark has been familiar with the Vermont Dance Alliance since its inception, recalling that she was one of its first members when the organization developed in 2016. She is greatly appreciative for the community support she has found living in the state—that so many “know my family” and can connect to both the personal and artistic facets of her life. Over the past few years, Julie has been growing this interest in integrating the personal with the professional.
In her choreographic work, Julie’s interests and style have been turning toward intimate explorations of her personal history: “My work in the past few years has been very autobiographical—based on my writing and personal experiences I’ve had.” She uses the word cathartic to describe the way her recent work has been healing, acting as a sort of therapy as she understands her past. Her piece that was meant for the 2020 VDA Gala concerns the experience of breastfeeding her children, incorporating elements of spoken word and drawing on Julie’s own journal entries.
Julie is particularly attuned to creative shifts right now, as a result of COVID-19 and the disruptions it has caused to her daily routine, availability of time, rehearsal space, and performance opportunities. She has also had to become a quick expert in the virtual dance world, due to her teaching position at the University of Vermont. Combined with her role as full-time mom to her preschool-age son, Julie has been noticing a lack of leftover energy and direction in her artistic work: “I feel very ungrounded, and it’s been quite difficult for me to find inspiration, because there’s nothing on the horizon.”
To counter this feeling of creative aimlessness, Julie is choosing to share a creative exercise that was helpful to her in the generation of some of her performance work last year. At the recommendation of a shaman, Julie has begun trying to use her dream space to her creative benefit—asking for inspiration while asleep. “Connecting To Your Inner Muse” requires the participant to write down the information or messages that present themselves upon waking in the morning, without editing or overthinking. Then, after multiple days of this practice, the participant records themselves speaking their journal entries and moving with a blindfold to generate new creative insight and ideas. Julie is eager to share this exercise because of how well it lends itself to this moment of isolation and introspection: “We are in our homes, with ourselves. It is an amazing opportunity to learn more.”
Looking forward, Julie is at once optimistic and realistic: “I have good weeks and then I have weeks that are challenging.” She notes how exciting it is to see members of the dance community sharing their ideas, processes, and finished work online with such generosity. In general, she says, “my big lesson—and I feel like my life keeps telling me this—is that we have no control over anything, really. And there can be beauty in this sort of free fall.”
Below is Julie’s video demonstration of her score, as well as both a written and audio walk-through of the prompt.
Connecting To Your Inner Muse:
What you’ll need:
-Journal and pen
-A safe open space
-Optional: orange pj’s or t-shirt, carnelian crystal
1) Before you go to bed at night, say a mantra asking to receive creative and inspirational messages while you sleep. Place one hand on your heart and one hand on your abdomen. Breathe in knowing that the connection between your creativity and your heart is where the magic happens. Let yourself naturally fall asleep.
2) When you awaken in the morning, grab your journal and pen, set the timer for 5 minutes, and begin writing. Allow all of the messages that were downloaded during the night to be put on paper. Even if some of the messages seem silly, don’t discount them, as they may lead you to another creative idea.
3) Repeat the steps above for 1-3 days.
4) Record yourself reading your writing, as is, no editing.
5) Find a safe space with enough room for you to move without running into anything. An area rug is perfect, so you can feel the boundaries with your hands and feet.
6) Begin the recording of your voice reading your 3 days of daily writing. Blindfold yourself, stand, sit, or lie down in your safe space. As you listen to the recording, begin to move in any way that inspires you. You can let the words of your recording direct you or the rhythm of your voice or follow your inner impulses as they react to your own thoughts, words, and voice. Allow spontaneous gestures, movements, and stillness to connect you to yourself in present moment.
7) Repeat as many times as you feel inspired. Perhaps just listen to the recording once, then begin to move on the second time you listen. Video yourself to witness what you’ve created with the intention of not judging; focus on the beauty of your own self- expression and self-awareness. Use this tool as artistic support, to connect with creativity and creative process, unblocking and opening to new ideas.
*Taking it a step further… (optional)
Wear orange pj’s to bed (the color orange inspires creative energy.)
Create a morning and evening ritual using a carnelian crystal to inspire the creative inner child. Before bed, lie down and place the carnelian crystal on your lower abdomen (your sacral chakra,) keep the crystal in place for at least 6 minutes. As you rest in stillness, repeat your mantra, asking to receive creative and inspirational messages while you sleep. Place the crystal under your pillow. When you wake in the morning, place the crystal in your non-writing hand, set the timer for 5 minutes, and begin writing.
Options for responses:
- Write about what you noticed. Share a page of your journal, certain images, or language that came up for you after this experience.
- Film yourself dancing this score.
Please email responses to email@example.com by August 15. Thank you!
You can also tag us on social media @vermontdance or use the hashtag, #dancingdigitally to connect.
Join us on Sunday, August 2 at 3pm for a community Zoom practice of Julie’s score!
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89582496184?pwd=SXFJUFcvRXVmUVplblNpWFQ3WHVxdz09 (password: vda)
We are pleased to announce that this project is supported in part by the Vermont Humanities Council. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed do not necessarily represent those of Vermont Humanities Council.