If you’re new to performance and wonder what it takes to collaborate, here are some helpful hints to get you headed in the right direction.
Be sure everyone involved in the project has the same basic goals. Start by discovering what sort of performance the other party wishes to create. Ask lots of questions — here’s a list to help you clarify your own desires while assisting you in assessing someone else’s ability to meet you where you’re at:
- Do you want to make money?
- Is the goal to entertain?
- Are you building your performance resume?
- Is it just for fun?
- Do you wish to create an elaborate technical vision?
- Do you wish to tell a story?
- Is it a comedy? Drama? Dramadey?
- What sorts of tools are you using?
- How many people do you want to work with?
- Where do you practice?
- What kind of music?
- Where do you perform it?
- What range of motion skills do you want to highlight?
- Are there other skills you want to accentuate in the piece?
- Will the piece break the fourth wall?
Assess your current skill levels. When working with others, generally speaking, the collaboration can only excel as far as the weakest person in the piece. If there is a gross disparity in the skill level — be it technique, stage presence, body skills, dance experience, comfort telling a story or anything else — co-creating a piece will likely lead to the more skilled person mentoring (intentionally or not) the less skilled person. This can be managed if one party has more skill in one area (say, technique) and another party brings more experience in another area (performance presence) while another person brings other toys to the party (perhaps costume creation). What is important up front is to understand what you have to offer and how well your desires and offerings match the other people’s needs and expectations.
How much time do you want to practice? Not all artists learn things in the same time frame. One artist can be a masterful technician yet unable to keep a beat so that performing the skills to music becomes a challenge. Another possibility is that learning choreography is much more challenging than learning the moves and this may impact the practice time necessary. It is important to understand how long it takes each individual to match the collective vision and be certain each party can commit the necessary time to practice to achieve the desired goals.