Some people are like Zorba the Greek. They let loose. They become uninhibited when the music plays. They express themselves through the movement of their bodies.
Not me. I find it difficult. And I think I’ve figured out why.
Have you ever played with Lego? There are kits which allow you to build ships from Star Wars, fortresses from Lord of the Rings and construct battles from Harry Potter. But when I was younger, I didn’t have these kits. I had a collection of blocks in different shapes and colours. From that collection, I could build whatever I wanted.
I was free to improvise because I had the blocks and I just had to combine them. But when you’re a beginner, you have no building blocks.
I see it when I train jiu jitsu. It’s quite common for a session to begin with a light roll. The more experienced can use this time to play around and flow into different positions. But the novice doesn’t know anything. Because he’s learnt nothing yet, he has nothing to play with.
Novices shouldn’t play. Novices can’t play. They don’t have enough basic elements to combine.
Going back to my dancing, or lack of. I began to wonder. If I took dancing lessons in a few different disciplines, would it be easier to improvise? Would having a selection of different moves allow me to play around and express myself? I think so.
I think we can generalise from this and get the following observations:
1) Beginners need structure. They cannot develop without it. They need it to learn the constituent elements of their art or discipline. To acquire the basic building blocks.
2) The more advanced need to deviate from structure. They need regular sessions where they explore. Where they have the freedom to play in an unconstrained way. Time where they can combine different elements from different situations.
I talked about this idea with Molly. She said that if I wanted to be like the guy who tears up the dance floor, then I need to escape self-consciousness.
But that self-consciousness has a specific origin. It comes from the void created by the lack of basic blocks to build with.