An app for expressive art? Sounds like a bit of an odd concept, right? Well, don’t look away just yet. Whether you’re a dancer, a painter, or just want something to help you with Mindfulness, there are a decent amount of apps out there which may be of use to you…
Unless you’ve been living under a stone the past few years, you’ll have encountered the ‘adult coloring’ phenomenon. It’s taken the world by storm - and a lot of people say it’s really helped their mindfulness practice, reduced their stress levels, and given their creativity a boost. However, if you aren’t able to carry coloring books and pencils around with you wherever you go (who is?), there are plenty of adult coloring apps you can download. One of the best is Recolor - a slick, well-presented app which manages to pretty faithfully recreate the act of coloring, despite being on a tablet or cellphone! There are thousands of designs to choose from, and a bigger selection of colors than you could ever fit into a pencil case! Lots of the designs are free, but more are available via in-app purchases.
Using an app to help you dance is not the easiest thing in the world. After all, unless you’re seriously well covered for accidents, nobody wants to dance with a phone or tablet in their hands! However, apps can give you a decent spread of pre-dance info, and help you not only to perfect your moves, but to learn new ones, and gain a greater general understanding of the world of dance. Pocket Salsa is one of the better dance apps out there. It provides dance-lesson vids and plenty of genuinely helpful advice to really improve your salsa!
Chromaldry is another coloring app - but with a difference. This one will take your smartphone photos and turn them into coloring pictures. It offers a nice paint palette, where users can mix their own colors by swirling them together with their fingers. It’s a lovely idea, and very well executed. The ability to turn your own photos into art adds a nice personal touch, and can really help those wanting to improve their artistic ‘eye’!
See Me allows you to turn your own photos and/or designs into wearable art. For $32 per tee, the app will print your design onto a t-shirt (which you get to customise to your own specifications) and send it out to you. Perfect for commemorating something lovely, or for providing someone with a unique gift! Of course, customized t-shirts are nothing new, but this app goes the extra mile to make a truly personalized tee easy and intuitive to create.
If you want to incorporate your phone into your dance (and why not), Air Pencil is a great way to do it. Basically, the app transforms your phone’s flashlight into a strobe light, which can be used to ‘draw’ temporary designs on the air. The app also captures your motions on its screen, allowing you to create beautiful designs with light. The app was inspired by artists like Picasso and Mili, both of whom experimented extensively in the arena of painting with light.
Lots of people are interested in pole dancing - and it is an excellent way to get fit and build confidence - but not everyone is comfortable with the idea of going to a class. Pole motion teaches you pole dance from the comfort of your own home. It’s suitable for both complete beginners and those who already know what they’re doing, so you don’t have to worry about getting in over your head! The app is free, so all you’ll need to purchase is the pole - but do be careful not to hurt yourself, and always do the app’s warm up before starting!
iDance is a dance and fitness app, which teaches dance steps through nifty little animations. There are plenty of styles to choose from, and it’s a great place to start if you’re new to dance, or thinking about taking it up but aren’t really sure whether it’s for you. While it may not be suitable for more advanced dancers, it does provide a great grounding for those starting out!
Two birthdays ago, my husband David surprised me with a fancy Nikon camera.
My first reaction was, “I don’t need something this nice, I don’t even know how to use it. Really, Honey, my camera phone will suffice.”
In a classic case of my beloved knowing me better than I know myself, I discovered that this brilliant device ended up being a godsend in my Dancing Mindfulness work, particularly at our trainings and special events. I started really experimenting at the facilitator trainings. As others danced, I began pointing and clicking, capturing any image I could, knowing that I could pick out the decent ones later. During my first summer with the camera, I received a simple piece of instruction on photography from Thiago, my friend from Brazil.
Thiago shared, “The key to photography is framing the image you want to shoot and then click away.”
When she shared this piece of knowledge with me, I began seeing the world in beautiful frames and I found this process to be especially powerful when I took pictures of dancers. In playing around with photography, like a child learning how to use a new toy or a new piece of technology, I found myself needing to receive my own teaching that I share in facilitating Dancing Mindfulness.
Trust the process.
Don’t let judgment of your skill (or lack of skill) keep you from exploring what’s possible.
Be a witness, not a judge.
Embrace the chance to keep trying new things; you may surprise yourself with what you are capable of doing in the process.
In contemplating how I’ve developed a real interest in photography inspired by my love of dance, I am awestruck, once again, by the beauty of expressive arts. By its nature, the field of expressive arts emphasizes the multi-modal fusion of creative processes to bring about healing experiences. To me, the real gift of this multi-modal process is when we can discover a passion for a practice we never found ourselves “good at” through one of our existing expressive practices. For me, that joy for taking photographs has directly flowed from listening to the fruitful messages of my Dancing Mindfulness practice.
One of my favorite dancing sisters to photograph is the delightful Betsey Beckman. A formally trained ballet dancer who has channeled her talent into performance and a flourishing liturgical dance ministry, Betsey embodies joy, grace, and prayer in her movements. Recently, while on a pilgrimage to Bingen, Germany to study the path of St. Hildegard, I found that I couldn’t stop taking pictures of Betsey in many a dancing moment. There is a magical alchemy to her process that is so lovely to receive on film. One of our fellow pilgrims, Mary Beth Albers, a sculptor, thought so too. On Saturday afternoon when we had nothing formal scheduled, Mary Beth, Betsey and I engaged in an afternoon of creative play to take some photographs of Betsey for what Mary Beth envisions as sculptor celebrating the dancer’s journey. I jumped at the chance to take the photographs for Mary Beth’s project. After taking the pictures, our playful venture continued as Mary Beth and Betsey helped me to shoot a teaching video, and then I had the chance to film Betsey in an improvisational dance as Mary Beth held space. This afternoon experience was a delightful outing fused by the expressive arts. I see the act of supporting each other in our expressive art making a verdant pathway for bringing healing to the world… if we are adventurous enough to explore it!
Thanks to Betsey for letting me share some of the pictures that I took of her on our afternoon outing in this blog as a slideshow. I look forward to seeing Mary Beth’s creation!
Dr. Jamie Marich
Curator of the Dancing Mindfulness expressive arts blog: a celebration of mindfully-inspired, multi-modal creativity