I thought I’d talk a little about ‘creating a product or resource’ as an integral part of your dance teaching or event production. Many dancers who teach, or have an interest in a specific topic, are quite capable of creating a resource that can be of benefit to others. Even starting with a small audience, your product can become a useful addition to your dance enterprise, whether you run a weekly class or if dance related work is something you do full time, as a career. The creation of products and resources can also generate extra income, whilst enhancing your own collection of resources.
It may be useful to re-frame how you see a product fitting into your artistic creations, and view it as:
1. An extension of your research and knowledge;
2. A way to clarify and propagate your vision;
3. A means of facilitating the educational process;
4. An educational resource or tool that provides opportunity for a more intensive learning experience.
A ‘product’ or ‘resource’ needn’t be commercial in nature, and in reality it doesn't need to sell massive quantities to be effective and successful. Many teachers use products and resources to supplement their live, real-time connectivity with people, to bring a new dimension to their student’s educational experience, and to supplement the developmental progress of students, participants and audience progress, through various forms of media. It is through refining an idea or concept, that the product or resource is created, packaged and delivered for the student’s benefit. The dictionary meaning of product is: “An article or substance that is manufactured or refined for sale”. The meaning of resource: “A source of help or information”.
Products and resources can be inspired by the artist’s original ideas, or consist of innovative amalgams of various teaching methodologies, and usually reflect years of intensive research. These tools for productivity can be extremely functional for both the creative development of the artist/producer as well for their audience. Creating a good quality, original product is a way of archiving your work and giving you the means to share it with a wider audience. These items are useful, take-home works that support a class, workshop, concept or event. They provide a means of formally gathered information that references class themes and content, giving the student or viewer an opportunity integrate the learning more fully. Ownership of some kind of support material is often imperative to the full learning experience.
A product can be a stand-alone concept, or be an offshoot of your teaching, following though a specific line of enquiry or area of interest. Stand-alone products can offer clarity and insight into an area that requires further study, and perhaps venture into new territory for both you and your audience. Post-event, useful product media supplies definitive information that may have not been fully absorbed during the event. We often see this phenomenon wit the rapid learning that occurs during workshops or festivals, where the class is very exciting, yet the participant fails to retain information that seemed vital at the time. This is because the nervous system can only process one thing at a time, and overload of information is common in the live experience.
Following a live class, course, workshop or exhibit, this additional material can be very useful. Usually, the products that work best are not those that simply recreate a learnt choreography, or re-hash the workshop content, but give the student an inroad into their own creative exploration. Students gain proficiency in creating and composing. They can experience deeper levels of discovery through material that extends their learning pathway. From discovering more about the spontaneity of improvisation and exploration of dance movement, to the formal structuring of movements into performance, there are many ways students can experience the interplay between creative process and creative products.
Copyright is an important issue to consider, as music is usually required. Gaining the artist’s permission in writing, promoting the artist in lieu of use of their music, and providing a link to their resources is a fair way of working with music if you don't have a budget for the outright payment and ownership of the tracks. Alternatively you can create your own music, electronically or live, or get it composed for a fee, and even hire musicians to play live to work within the project guidelines. If working with concepts, be sure to contact and credit the person who brought forth the original idea, and of course be sure to be clear on permission and guidelines.
Drafting your work in terms of title, aims, production phases, timeline of events and final delivery method is essential from the onset. It's a good idea to have a notebook dedicated just to the single production topic, as here are more factors that appear, than we initially envisage, with any project of this nature. The process is ideally clear and focused on a topic without digressing too much, as digression can lead to a watered down version of an otherwise powerful topic. Niches tend to work in the dance product world, whether they pertain to genre, style or creative or cultural influence.
If you have your materials, and have planned your phases to stay on track with incremental mini-goals and deadlines, the project unfolds relatively easily. Determining the delivery method in the early stages will assist with your overall planning strategy. Sometimes you will find that you need more time, so rather than rush a project, it is better backtrack, to slow the process and do it properly. The start up is the fun part, when enthusiasm propels you, but the follow through will often become tedious, as after the initial excitement, media projects inevitably take a certain amount of time, energy and focus to finalize. After the product is finished, the delivery must be tested properly before launch. These days digital delivery has a wider outreach, although hard copy resources like cds, dvds and books are still popular at live events and for those who prefer a tangible object. Notify your audience, and celebrate the launch of your creative new offering.