What might it mean to shift from trying to succeed and prove ourselves in the world as we know it to collaboratively shaping the creative landscape and culture of the future?

Module 1 – Stop Spinning

disarm your inner critic and get going

Let's meet each other where it counts. By identifying fears and limiting beliefs that hold you back, you can learn a new way of dancing with self-doubt, feeling not ready, or not-good-enough. Understand why the urging to "be more confident" or "positive self-talk or praise" don't make much of an impact, and what to do instead. Identify the difference between a healthy striving for continuous improvement vs. self-destructive criticism. We will each identify what it means to stay curious and have demanding standards that move us forward. We will also define the criteria for our project(s) during the course, and look at how to get started with something new and/or re-motivate to finish something old, while testing and practicing tools from the course.

Creative Practice: writing exercises; make a playful flash-piece in your medium representing the inner critic

“At the time I started in ballet they were dancing 'The Spirit of Champagne' on pointe, in Paris. I thought, 'I don't want to dance the spirit of champagne, I want to drink it!'” ... “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”      ― Martha Graham

Module 2 – Tune In

redefine achievement and leadership - find your source

Your deepest longings... can you touch them, listen to them, feel them? We re-evaluate what achievement could mean, and alternative models of leadership. Rather than striving to achieve "balance" we look at "integration." We also look at how to start working together in forward moving, supportive pairs within the course.

Creative Practice: "Drawing an Analog of the Problem" by Betty Edwards

"When I am composing, the sounds are leading me to the way I want them to organize.... I am also interested in music expanding consciousness. By expanding consciousness, I mean that old patterns can be replaced with new ones."    ― Pauline Oliveros

Module 3 – Take the Heat

withstanding ambiguity & the critical response process

Why is visibility so hard? Most performers long to be seen and heard, creators want an audience, everyone wants their hard work to be received and land somewhere and have impact, and for the professional artist we also need work and income. We aren't doing it just for the "experience" or "love of it." 

Yet often we subtly play it safe, either in how we put out ideas (or hold them back), or emotionally in how we want our work to receive praise and recognition. We may avoid criticism because it can be brutal and personal or just seem empty and disengaged, leaving us feeling disconnected, defensive or demotivated.

In this module we look at how to take the heat of visibility and how to get & give useful feedback. We will investigate Liz Lerman's Critical Response Process and learn resilience tools, so you can unhook from the need for praise and the avoidance of criticism, and dig into the real meat of your technique – and keep motivated.

An additional dilemma for women is that we are faced with the "double bind" of being seen as either "nice" or "competent" but not both, which research documents. "Nice" can be an obstacle to growth. Sometimes women don't get the input we need, or sometimes we don't say what we think because of the pressure to be "nice" – then feedback is reduced to cheerleading. What to do about this? How to communicate strategically and manage the vulnerability of putting original or risky ideas forward, get along with people and still have a meaty, meaningful exchange?

Practice: mind-body focus exercise; show something of your work and practice giving and receiving feedback using the tools up to now.

“It's a great lesson about not being too precious about your writing. You have to try your hardest to be at the top of your game and improve every joke you can until the last possible second, and then you have to let it go. You can't be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it...You have to let people see what you wrote.”
― Tina Fey

Module 4 – Get Messy

debunk perfectionism; use prototyping models to move forward and build support

Learn how perfectionism limits us, and how we can move to an open mindset instead. Debunk the myths that talent or intelligence are fixed qualities, and the related need to push, prove or pretend. Use prototyping models to take strategic risks and move forward. Find out when procrastination is useful, and how to withstand ambiguity. Understand why we may (unconsciously) be limited by good girl and good student behaviors. Loosen up, break the rules, play.

Creative Practice: apply the prototyping model to some aspect of your work

"Surefire things are deadening to the human spirit." ― Dorothea Lange

Module 5 – Dig Deep




negotiate for yourself

How to listen internally to what we really want and speak externally to ask for possibilities and what we need. How to take our sense of self to a larger perspective, to offer service and voice to our work. Find out how to prepare and structure a conversation, not only about money and contracts, but everyday things. Negotiation can be a collaborative constructive conversation, not only competitive win/loose paradigm.

Practice: role-playing small group work

"It is far more difficult to murder a phantom than a reality."  Virginia Woolf

Module 6 – Answer the Call





give and receive - create sustainable action

In this module we look at myths related to hard work and self-discipline. We learn a sustainable model for moving toward our vision, one that doesn't rely on running on adrenaline and pushing ourselves to get work out there. We look at how to recognize what our "callings" are in the first place (not just one, but perhaps several). We go deeper into collaborative models, authentic leadership and crafting vision that is sustainable. It's often said that women are hardest on other women. Business women have been strategically building networks the last few years, to great success. Why not artists too? How (and why) to become each other's best allies, and support each other in moving from competitive perfectionism to generosity, fun and mastery.

Creative Practice: crafting a touchstone

"I rarely draw what I see. I draw what I feel in my body." – Barbara Hepworth


Reading List

The Gift of Imperfection by Brene Brown     

Originals by Adam Grant

Critical Response Process by Liz Lerman

Playing Big by Tara Mohr

Letters to A Young Artist by Anna Deavere Smith    

The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp 

plus numerous online sources, studies and inspirations