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  • Writer's pictureAlex Rathbun

Creative Inspiration from Joanna Paul

Creative Inspiration from Joanna Paul

With the goal of developing this platform into a communal space, I continually am seeking out others' stories of creativity and meaning. Hadassah Carlson gave us a view into being a photographer, As Husband and Wife brought us into the world of music, and this week we get to hear about the life of a dancer.

When I moved to Chicago 5 years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting this week's guest, Joanna, and her roommate, Colleen, who are both professional dancers. As I've gotten to know them, it's been amazing to get a peek into the world of dance - something I previously knew very little about as a visual artist. Read on to hear about Joanna's life as a creative as well as experience the beauty, playfulness and joy that she exudes.

And read to the end to learn about where you can next see her perform!

What does creativity mean to you?

To me, creativity requires childlike abandonment and joy, mixed with fearlessness! It is moving from a place of freedom to take risks, and disregarding judgment. I believe human beings are inherently creative, and the moments when I am creating are the times I feel most like myself.

What role does your creativity play in your life?

Creativity is a big part of my life, which makes me incredibly thankful. As a dance artist, I rehearse with Trifecta Dance Collective twice a week for performances that happen three times a year—one of which is next week! I get to choreograph and perform with TDC and recently became their Associate Artistic Director. In addition, I spend most evenings as a dance instructor for kids aged 3-18 at the Dance and Music Academy in Glenview and Edgebrook.

Creativity also plays in a big role in my relationships. My boyfriend is a musician and visual artist, so our time together usually looks like him teaching me how to make something cool or play something. My roommate is also a dancer, and we love to collaborate. Together we have a project-based dance company called The Friday Collective, which has given us the opportunity to create performance experiences with some of our amazing, creative friends.

What is an early memory of exercising creativity for you?

A really fun memory I have is working together with my family members to make fun home movies! We have a video from when I was two years old, where my dad created an elaborate drawing of a dragon on a sheet and used a blowtorch to make it breathe fire (yeah, not the safest). Then, my brother and I dressed up as characters from a fairy tale and we told an adventure story. When we got a little older, my brothers and I would used our giant VHS camcorder to record silly sketches we created.

What's your favorite creative activity?

I think I'd have to say dance improvisation, meaning moments when I am alone in the studio and am moving freely, just exploring an idea or feeling or pattern of movement, without any kind of necessary end result.

What project are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the project Where Beauty Rises, an evening of performance by Chicago artists as a response to the global water crisis. A really cool organization called Photoserve partnered with The Friday Collective to make it happen. WBR was my first big jump into turning a vision and idea into reality. It was scary and hard, and a ton of people worked together to make it possible, and that made it even more meaningful. The experience revealed to me how art can impact communities, with one community coming together to benefit another. All proceeds were donated to Wine to Water for hurricane relief. All of this reinforced to me why art is important. I was also excited to provide an opportunity for my creative friends to present original work. It takes so much courage to make something new, and being able to validate the importance of that risk was really special. Plus, the results were just so beautiful.

What is a dream of yours?

You know, after reflecting on Where Beauty Rises, I think I will say a dream of mine is to see a source for clean water available to everyone who needs one. There are so many great organizations doing really trustworthy work that just need support, so I’m going to use this space to encourage people to check them out: Surge for Water, Photoserve, Wine to Water, Charity Water, to name a few.

What is something easily misunderstood about you?

I used to feel really misunderstood when it came to my chosen profession, and how I fit into a society that doesn’t readily recognize or value art as a career path. However, as I’m reflecting, I realize I don’t really feel misunderstood anymore, and I’m wondering, “why?” You know, I think the answer is that I’ve found some avenues that I feel so passionate about and invested in, that I don’t need to be understood to pursue them. In doing so, I’ve developed more confidence in who I am and what I have to say, and now I can educate those around me and invite them into this world alongside me!

Are you, like me, wondering where you can see this beauty perform? Check out Trifecta Dance Collective's upcoming performance! The performance will include repertory from this past season, plus Joanna will be performing a solo from their upcoming piece centering around mental health, with collaboration from theater group Erasing the Distance, to premiere June 2019. See more details here or buy tickets!

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