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Compassion and Creativity

I was on a meditation course this weekend with my favourite teacher (a Buddhist monk called Gelong Thubten).
We talked in-depth about the importance of integrating compassion and kindness to our practice of mindfulness.

For example:

During the meditation practice, our mind will inevitably wonder and thoughts will pop up, all in the name of distraction.
If people tell themselves things like “common’ you, can’t you focus!” it raises their stress levels.
If on the other hand, we kindly, gently bring ourselves back to focussing on the breath, without judgement, oxytocin is being released, which makes us feel safe and calm.

How compassionate are we with OUR creativity?

I am guilty.
I have definitely attended dance classes where I thought: “Common’ Cindy! You aren’t getting the groove right!”
Looked at my poetry thinking: “This isn’t good enough. You are not sharing that with the world.”
Preparing a show: “Girl, you better hurry up. Doesn’t look like ideas come quickly to you, or is it?”

Meditation combined with the practice of compassion brought me on a different journey.
Being kind to myself when ideas popped up transformed my relationship with my creative juices, but also with how I share it with the world.

 

Creativity and making this world a better world

As an artist, I always reflected how my creativity could make this world a better world. Whether I am creating a show, teach a class or perform, I want it to benefit society in some way, shape or form.

In Buddhism, we dedicate our practice to the benefit of others. Meditation is not a selfish act to improve our own lives, it is also a practice to benefit others, making all lives more peaceful and joyful.

I believe that when we tap into our most profound creative potential, we have the ability to impact our communities, relationships and environment. I want to see everyone feel confident in their creative approach to life.

When I talk about creativity, I mean ALL creative ventures:

– finding solutions to business problems
– being creative in our public speaking
– putting ideas on the table during a meeting at work
– etc.

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It is because I believe in the compassionate power of creativity, that I set up the:

DYNAMIC CREATIVITY RETREATS

A full weekend of dance, theatre, storytelling, creative writing… and compassion!

No previous experience necessary. All welcome.

SAT 25th & 26th AUG in London

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The benefits of engaging in fun and mindful creative tasks impacts all areas of our lives (personal and professional).
Join us to tickle your funny bone and learn to think on your feet!
The objective of this Retreat Weekend is to:

  • cultivate a creative approach to life
  • a solution-orientated mindset

 

BOOK TICKETS  CLICK HERE

Cindy

PS: we have early offers on at the moment, book your spot now 🙂

My first attempt to sum up 1000 Pieces Puzzle (2017) – BLOG 1

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Jazz music in the background, the smell of coffee and rose white tea, steam coming out my mug, all of a sudden… my eyes lit up!

“1000 Pieces Puzzle isn’t a project, it feels more like a movement.”.

I am sitting in a coffee shop, an informal catch up with Theresa Beattie, a phenomenal woman who has several decades of experience within the arts as a producer and artistic director. Her words resonate and echo a couple of times in the space… It feels like my mind stands still for a second.

It’s been 2 weeks now since we wrapped up the 2017 edition. I have desperatelly been trying to write a simple Facebook status, but not a word is coming out! Have you ever had a creative block when writing a Facebook status?!?!

1000 Pieces Puzzle (2017 edition) has been such an emotional rollercoaster of growth, an experience made of magic, bubbles and sparkle, it was such a powerful heartwarming event that I have been unable to write anything that would give it justice.

It was “life-changing”, as many participants described it. And life-changing moments are sometimes better described in silence than in words.

Sipping tea, my mind keeps repeating Theresa’s words in a loop: “1000 Pieces Puzzle isn’t a project, it feels more like a movement.”.  My frozen stillness felt like decades even though I am sure it must have only taken a few seconds before I tried to speak again.

Theresa had heard of the programme last year, I had invited her as a consultant to be a part of a Business Brainstorm weekend to move Cindy Claes Productions forwards. Twelve months later, she saw the results live. An explosive collaboration between 30 dancers, and 4 countries: UK – Belgium – Jamaica – USA.

1000 Pieces Puzzle is an international dance exchange and leadership program I set up a few years ago. It is mainly, but not exclusivelly, aimed at supporting Hiphop, Dancehall, Krump, House and Afrobeats dance artists.

Ten years of day dreaming, 100s of sleepless nights and many flights later, the program is now a massive success, empowering artists and dancers with the necessary tools to make their own dreams come true.

Being speechless has its beauty, but if I want the program to expand and give opportunities to more leaders from the dance industry to rise, I must go on a quest of finding the rights words to describe “it”.

I take a sip of my tea and loudly respond: “YES! YES! Theresa… YES!”. A movement. This actually sounds right.

1000 Pieces Puzzle is about nurturing citizens of the world a.k.a. artists of the world. It is about highlighting the importance of each individual and his/her dreams, it is about reminding artists of the power of their artistic expression and making sure all involved use their creative work to make this world a better world.

1000 Pieces Puzzle is about building a society based on win-win situations. It is about embracing the champion that we are and about boosting the leader within ourselves. It is about supporting others generously and at the same time finding the courage to strive fully for our own ideas to come true.

1000 Pieces Puzzle had nothing to do with me, it was something way beyond the human being that I am. 1000 Pieces Puzzle carries an energy in itself, uplifting, joyful and a strong feeling of being ready to take over the world. It’s a mindset thing, in action, continuously in action, continuously in motion. It is something that happens within the interactions, the exchanges and the collaborations. The energy is created in the space by the dancers, for the dancers. And this energy travels beyond the studio, it has a domino effect and goes beyond the group that we were.

1000 Pieces Puzzle is a movement.

Thank you Theresa,

Cindy

More blog posts will follow after this first attempt of writing more about 1000 Pieces Puzzle (2017).

***1000 Pieces Puzzle (2017) was presented by Cindy Claes Productions and Zinnema, in association with East London Dance.

***Photo by Alex Rumford.

Dance storytelling… some videos!

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Here are a few videos of some dance stories I worked on over the years:

from solo’s to full length productions… from working with professional dancers and students on their journey into the dance theatre world… here are a few extracts of showcases and rehearsals.

I am running dance storytelling workshops for all levels, and I also lead an intensive leadership program for choreographers called 1000 Pieces Puzzle. Please get in touch if you would like to book the program in your city / country / school!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrdssTBuqGw

Selling Yourself Without Selling Out

1000 Pieces Puzzle is a Dance Career Bootcamp ran by renowned dance theatre choreographer and playwright, Cindy Claes. The program covers absolutely every subject you could possibly need to know to carve out a career for yourself in dance.

The first training program was held in Brussels, Belgium, over 5 weekends in January and February 2015.  Supported by Zinnema, the bootcamp was a true success!

In a theatre in Belgium called “Zinnema”, a dozen dance students in the program worked with professional mentors to sculpt a short performance piece over the space of five weekends. They learned choreography, storytelling through dance, creating a character for the stage and… they even studied project management and tools to budget their shows!

Artists of all mediums have never been known to have the best business skills.

Master painter Vincent Van Gogh, the archetype of the starving artist, famously never sold a single painting in his entire lifetime. It’s exactly that mindset that Cindy is trying to change. She believes that the key to becoming successful (whilst your still alive) is a sound business sense.

During the first weekend of the bootcamp, Cindy asked the dancers to stand up in front of the group and describe themselves as an artist in less than 2 minutes. For most of the students this was confronting, they where at a loss for words and found it hard to say more than “……I’m a dancer… and hmmmm…”.

So over the next month Cindy Claes, along with Kate Scanlan (founder of Scanners Inc., UK) and Jan Wallyn (Artistic Director of Zinnema) delivered a series workshops in budgeting, networking, marketing, pitching to funders, considering target audience, amongst many more.

The challenge for the dancers was that just five weeks later they would have to pitch themselves again, but this time, in front of a professional panel of judges who would be awarding one prize to the person and creative project with the most potential.

“A lot of dancers want to put shows together… but if you don’t have the skills to articulate your ideas and vision clearly, funding bodies and theatre venues aren’t going to invest in your potential. That’s why these professional development programs are so important.”  – Cindy Claes

The heat was on, but the dancers held true to their training.  When the final weekend came, all choreographers where able to speak with clarity and confidence about themselves, their artistic vision and their plan to achieve it. Each and everyone of them had a incredible breakthrough!

Zinnema was so impressed by the transformation of the artists, their pitches, and the quality of their final shows, that they decided to award not only one prize (as originally intended) but to triple their entire prize pool!

 

Jenny Onya received a commission of 1500 €, 10 days of rehearsal space in kind and technical support to develop her work.  She created a Dance Theatre piece based on rape and the suffering of women in the Eastern Congo region.  The extract her dancers performed on the night was very moving, bringing many audience members to tears.

Mouss Sarr also received a commission of 1500 €, 10 days of rehearsal space in kind and technical support to develop a creative project he wants to produce.  Based on inter-disciplinary collaborations, Mouss will be producing a one day festival which will result in a mond blowing performance.

Camile and Anissa, two young Hiphop freestyle dancers received logistic support and business mentoring for a project that is close to their heart.  They will run a course and program for young Hiphop freestyle dancers during te winter, providing a wamr and safe space for young people to train as well as workshops in variety of street dance techniques.

 

It goes to show that there is a subtle art to being successful, and with the right mindset and the right mentor it is something anyone can learn. Talent isn’t everything. It’s only one piece of the Puzzle.

And as Will Smith would say”

“Skill is only developed by hours and hours 

and hours of Beating on your craft… 

there’s no easy way around it, 

no matter how talented you are you talent is going to fail you 

if you’re not skilled, 

if you don’t study, 

if you don’t work really hard and dedicate yourself 

to being better every single day

you’ll  never be able to communicate with people with your artistry 

the way that you want.” – Will Smith 

 

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Written by Sara Kerrison

Edited by Cindy Claes

 

65 59 47 16 11

Documentary on our Dance Theatre Exchange JA / UK!!

We are proud and excited to share with you a documentary (made by Janka Troeber) about our UK/JA  Dancehall Theatre Exchange!!!  It just got released on YouTube and the images triggered so many positive memories.

 

The documentary got shared all over social media.  Here is what the students and artists who participated to the program said:

 

“Truly blessed and thankful to have been a part of this wonderful project thanks to Cindy and her whole team ! It’s been a life changing experience! All the hard work, trainings and lessons learned will be remembered and applied forever, and we will continue fighting for projects like this !” – Marie Popovski

 

“So happy I got to be part of that beautiful project!I learnt so much from the incredible Cindy Claes and the super talented @shadysquad. I’ve also met true real good friends!” – Felicia Dotse

 

“One of the BEST experiences of my LIFE!!!” – Matthew Richard

 

“One of the best times in my career. Being apart of this collective, training HARD, pushing oneself,creating, sweating, rehearsing,performing, tiredness, laughter upon laughter,international exchange new friends cest stylé!!!!!!!!. Don’t judge the shabby rehearsal clothes and heads scarf and dry lips by den image weren’t a factor!! Lets do it AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN!!!!!!!” – Natalie Baylie

 

“Sorry for my ugly, sweaty,tired faces but I completely released, pushed myself, my heart,me, just as I am and I felt the love of this family so much that this has been one the best training, crew, collaboration, memory, show, xchange, experience of my life!” – Michela Di Felice

 

I truly believe international dance theatre connections are incredibly life changing.  We now also have a DONATE page so you can support more artists to benefit from such training and experiences.  These projects allow artists to not only develop their performance skills but it also supported many to nurture their leadership skills.  Click here to DONATE now.

 

Drum rolls please…. let me introduce you to our first documentary about us taking over London and the world with Dancehall Theatre:

 

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The Dancehall LAB – January 2015

Happy New Year!!!  Hope you all had a fabulous time with your beloved ones and started the year with energy and love.

 

I am soon launching a new class, and it is an exciting one!!!

 

Badda Beats Thursdayz is a new concept where all dance lovers looking for classes of dances of the african diaspora can come and enjoy a variety of vybz, all in the same place, on the same night!

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BADDA BEATS THURSDAYZ

7-8.30pm
The Dancehall Lab 
with Cindy & Guests

8.30-10pm
Afro-Beats Fusion
with GOP Dancerz

£8/class or £12 for both

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THE DANCEHALL LAB will start with concept choreos & freestyle classes during January. Then, we will have a whole series of Collabo Classes coming up such as:

Dancehall + House
Dancehall + Afro-Beats
Dancehall + Theatre / Performance skills / Acting for dancers
Dancehall + Dancehall
Dancehall + “Afro-Abstract”
and more…

Here is the schedule for January 2015, collabo classes are to be announced soon… so make sure you subscribe to the newsletter, join us on FB, follow us on Twitter or Instagram…

 

 

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Collabo Class TUE 25th NOV

COLLABO CLASS

Jazz-Fusion & Dancehall

Dominic-Lawrence and Cindy Claes

TUE 25th NOV

6-7.30pm

at Studio68

£7

 

Dominic-Lawrence is a choreographer who has developped an intricate dance vocabulary influenced by Jazz, African Dance, Hiphop and more.  We are joining forces and creative minds to bring you a mindblowing class on TUE 25th NOV 6-7.30pm at Studio68!!!

 

Sofa Sessions by Scanners Inc. – hosted by Cindy Claes (Thurs 5th June)

If you are an artist (filmmaker, dancer, writer, actor, musician, etc.) or a producer working within the arts, check out SOFA SESSIONS, a monthly platform for professional development by Scanner’s Inc Productions.

Each month we look at a specific topic or address a particular challenge. You get to think about your career, you receive food for thought to explore new avenues to set up your projects and… you get to network, all of that around a cup of tea!

The event is FREE to attend. Please register in advance.

This week we will “Share to Build”, and I will be hosting the session this week Thurs, please join us:

THURS 5th JUNE, 10am-12pm, at the BFI (Central London, UK)

INFO:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1511286755766445/?