“Neither development nor creativity stop with physical maturation. They are lifelong endeavours - In fact, creativity is a resource for sustained lifetime development” - Vygotsky.
Have you ever seen a child experiencing the world? Children are the perfect example of living with creativity and play in the centre. Imagination guides their worlds. They begin to make sense of the material world through their imaginative worlds. As we grow up, the general observation is that we start to lose hold of our innate capacity of imagination, creation and play. We typically view growth and development as the number of years we inhabit this planet. It could be one way of looking at growth. However, we undeniably have encountered emotionally stunted or immature adults and emotionally receptive or mature children or young adults. And so, the above quote by Vygotsky highlights that both development and creativity are continuous and ongoing processes irrespective of how old we are. Alternatively, creativity is a way through which we can ensure constant growth throughout our lives. Let’s explore this a little in this blog post.
Creativity enables us to be curious about life. It instils and encourages questioning. It helps us to arrive at our unique answers about various aspects. It puts what is right and what is wrong under scrutiny. Which allows us to broaden our perspectives, instils empathy and opens us to the possibility of shared truth. Creativity and imagination are closely related. Fresh ideas are born when we can access our imaginal spaces. The same question can now have multiple creative answers, all equally correct. At the centre of both creativity and imagination lies play. Play is the birthplace of curiosity, lightness and wonder.
Vygotsky rightly says that play is externalised imagination rather than that imagination is internalised play.
If we approach life with these three qualities as our building blocks, then growth is inevitable. The constant questioning, evolving of questions and arriving at plausible answers seems to be the essence of development. The following steps include the execution of our newfound understandings.
All of this is held gently in an Expressive Arts Space. We nurture creativity and imagination together. We slowly build a space of safety and trust that enables play to thrive. Here, we can hold new questions, perhaps even the uncomfortableness that follows. This process may allow the adult to get in touch with their child-like qualities. It’s important to note the difference between childish and child-like. To live life with a child-like spirit is to live life colourfully, and childish behaviour is perceived as immaturity. Getting in touch with this child-like quality often comes with vulnerability. And since safety is one of the most critical aspects of an Expressive Arts experience, we welcome openness to take space.
Personally, when I look back at my journey with Dance Movement Therapy first and
then Expressive Arts - It’s difficult to pinpoint when I began to notice how I was growing. However, as someone that responded to sticky situations with irrational and impulsive emotional responses - in hindsight, I see how I have been able to pause, question, form meaning, and respond in a more balanced state. Earlier, the impulsive responses often lead to more entangling with the sticky situation; today, I am able to brave the storm, sit with the discomfort, and respond, not react.
To conclude - typically, in an Expressive Arts Experience, we first get in touch with creativity and play. We then slowly arrive at questions and our unique answers. We are simultaneously holding discomfort, expression and vulnerability. Which then gives way to finding our own tools to assimilate this into our beings. In this way, creativity and growth play a considerable role in Expressive Arts.
“A true understanding of reality is not possible without a certain element of imagination, without a departure from reality, from those immediate concrete holistic impressions by means of which reality is represented in the elementary acts of our consciousness” - Vygotsky.
Written by Charvi Budhdeo
Founder of The Movement Spectrum