The Rhythm of Dance and the Beats it creates for design

As designers, we spend hours behind the computer, creating our work and harvesting the pixel perfect rendition of each project. It’s easy to go straight to the computer, opening illustrator or InDesign and getting right to work. But, where does creativity come from? How do we get the best and most creative ideas? How do we train our brain to think differently and look at each challenge with a fresh perspective?

This past year I’ve been making a conscious effort to spend more time away from the computer as part of my process. I must admit, it hasn’t been easy since being accustomed to a deadline driven approach, stepping away to connect with my creative side is putting trust in the uncertainty of time needed for ideas to surface. However, just like anything else it’s a practice and eventually trusting your instincts that the ideas will present themselves in the most unlikely manner is part of the journey. Which brings me to how dance can be one of those unlikely manners.

I’ve been dedicating 3-4 sessions per week to dancing with a Middle Eastern and Polynesian ensemble in preparation for the Spring 2017 concert. Although I have danced several times on stage before, this kind of weekly dedication is certainly a challenge in endurance and honing dance skills. What I’m learning though is dance is very much like design in many ways. Knowing the technique is an important base, however the choreography formulates in a fluid manner as the dance director moves dancers around, creates a rhythm for smooth formations, organizes the dancers according to height and featured skills. Each rendition of the dance is organic, but technique is never forgotten even when a movement is tweaked to better tell a story. Dancers move around like paint brushes, flowing into place like paint on canvas. In the end it looks simple, yet the complexities are what make it look so effortless.

This experience is opening my mind to the core of great design in a very unique way. I can imagine myself as a paint brush or a pixel and think as if I am inside of a project. In addition to the great physical and mental exercise, the connection between dance and design is such a harmonic approach to our craft. In essence we are taking steps into a formation that represents how the rhythm of dance is like the beats for design.