Do you find yourself falling back into your default ways of doing things, when more creative possibilities exist? How do you harness that energy and potential? And how does collaboration help you achieve your own creative potential?
On Thursday, October 6, in partnership with Neighbourhood Dance Works and with the support of the “Quick Start” Fund at Memorial University’s Office of Public Engagement , we’re hosting a fun and interactive session with Shannon Litzenberger (professional dance artist, leadership developer, embodiment facilitator and Chalmers Fellow) that will get you up and on your feet as you explore practices that support collaboration and creativity. (This session is designed with all bodies in mind and no movement experience is required.)
We caught up with Shannon to learn more and get a sneak peek ahead of Thursday’s session.
Business & Arts NL: As a professional dancer and leadership developer, can you tell us a bit about how movement (and being more in tune with our bodies) relates to, and intertwines with, creativity, collaboration and leadership?
Shannon Litzenberger: It might seem perfectly obvious to say but movement is the way in which we, as embodied beings, interact with, relate to, and understand our world. Our thoughts and actions are deeply shaped by embodied encounters with our environment and our relationships. To ensure our ability to survive and thrive, we are naturally drawn to what nourishes us and repelled by what threatens us. We, as bodies, are always seeking a sense of safety, belonging and respect within our social field and we adapt our behaviour to achieve this.
This process of adapting to fit into our environment happens with and through the complex intelligence of our bodies. We sense, rather than calculate our world as we move through it. Embodied intelligence (also referred to as embodied cognition) includes capacities like interoception (how we sense our bodies), exteroception (how we sense the world around us), proprioception (how we understand ourselves in context), emotion (our feelings), as well as conceptual thinking (how we make our felt experience symbolic through language, metaphor and concepts).
So what does this have to do with creativity, collaboration and leadership? Well, everything! How we perceive our world informs how we adapt to it. That is, how we make decisions and take action. In a hyper-stimulating world with many demands on our attention, this perception-decision-action loop is often in a default mode. We easily develop default ways of perceiving the world and relating to it based on recognized patterns from past experiences. On the one hand, this makes a fast-paced, over-stimulating, productivity-focused world easier to navigate, and on the other, it fixes us into conditioned tendencies and default responses that don’t always serve our current reality or our ability to expand into new creative possibilities.
To perceive the world anew, we have to slow down and tune into the sensory signals our bodies are receiving. This information can then inform other possibilities about how we might act and relate within it.
This is what artists do all the time. Artists are often engaging with novelty and we do this by using our attentional capacities to notice and imagine the world in expanded ways.
As a professional dance artist, I’ve spent the last decade translating the embodied movement practices I use in the studio to make ensemble-based performances into exercises that help groups create generatively in all kinds of contexts, including in business, academic and social benefit sector environments.
Honing the process of co-creation is critical for artists and leaders alike because it is a generative pathway toward new creative possibilities.
Business & Arts NL: How can generative collaboration also help people realize their own individual potentials?
SL: Because we are relational beings, we come to know ourselves through our relationships. Our individual potential is always developed in relationship to self, others and the world and so collaborative processes are particularly fertile ground for developing individual potential. These are spaces where our gifts can become amplified when they interact with the gifts of others, toward a common vision. When collaboration is successful, the impact is often exponentially greater than the sum of its parts.
However, these exponential dividends of collaboration often rely on healthy group dynamics where the agency of the individual is carefully balanced with the agency of the goal itself. How these dynamics are shaped and calibrated is where my practices are focused.
Through my ongoing research, I have been exploring the notion that one of the most critical capacities of leadership is the ability to respond to what a moment is asking of us, in service to a shared aim. Our ability to respond relates to both how we perceive a moment (how we ‘read’ a situation through our sensory capacities) and our ability to respond (how expansive is our repertoire of possible responses).
How we sense and respond not only shapes a moment, but over time also shapes the culture of a team. Improving our ability to contribute to healthy working cultures is something we can practice through movement.
Business & Arts NL: Can you give us a bit of a sneak peek as to what participants can expect from your workshop?
SL: Leadership and the Body focuses on amplifying our attentional capacity and expanding our repertoire of possible responses – all through movements-based practices.
The session is highly interactive! We will be working primarily in action, on our feet. While we will be moving a lot, there is no dancing or choreography involved and the activities are designed with all bodies in mind.
Through playful games and directed exercises, we will explore ways of tuning our embodied attention, noticing our default habits of thought and action, and practicing ways of responding generatively and expansively within collaborative group dynamics.
Business & Arts NL: Who would you encourage to attend this session?
SL: This workshop is for anyone interested in experiencing how we can expand our collaborative leadership abilities by working with and through the body. No movement experience is required. All bodies are welcome.
Workshop: Leadership and the Body: Strategies for Generative Collaboration
Date/Time: Thursday, October 6 from 3-5 pm NT
Location: In-person at Suncor Energy Hall, MUN School of Music
Registration: Click here