Push Comes to Shove, which Baryshnikov had commissioned for American Ballet Theater, and I was hooked.
I read 80 pages of the book this afternoon in one sitting, partly because I find Tharp's message compelling, and partly because I find her dedicated approach to her art appealing. She's of the school that believes that talent doesn't count for much unless you're prepared to work hard and consistently. And that's much of what the book is about: setting work habits that foster the conditions in which creativity is most likely to flower. Here's some of what I jotted in my Moleskine this afternoon while I was reading:
"When I'm unable to shake my fears sufficiently, I borrow a biblical epigraph from Dostoyevsky's The Demons:" I see my fears being cast into the bodies of wild boars and hogs and I watch them rush to a cliff where they fall to their deaths." [beats counting sheep.]Here's Baryshnikov in a bit of Tharp's Sinatra Suite and in Push Comes to Shove, for old times' sake:
"The other obstacle to good work is distractions. When I commit to a project I don't expand my contact with the world; I try to cut it off...I list the biggest distractions in my life and make a pact with myself to do without them for a week." [she cuts out movies, multi-tasking, "numbers," and music. Add the Internet for me.] "Subtracting your dependence on some of the things you take for granted increases your independence." and
"There's a difference between a work's beginning and beginning to work." [In other words, starting to work doesn't necessarily mean that you know how the work will begin.] "Just start. You never know where it will take you."