Creative Haftecks: How would you define Creativity? ☆

| May 2, 2011

A post about the creativity salon hosted by Dr. Lori Custodero and Claire and Lucie Hafteck; which took place as part of the Creativity, Imagination, and Innovation Symposium, Friday, April 29, 2011.

Photo by Heather Van Uxem.

Claire Hafteck, age 11, along with her sister Lucie, age 8, have been working with Associate Professor of Music at Teachers College, Lori Custodero. The pint-sized artists commanded their own salon with an audience of 15 adults like seasoned seminar pros at TC’s Creativity, Imagination, and Innovation Symposium on Friday, April 29th.

Each creative Hafteck sister has a distinct personality, which was reflected in their choices of dress that day; Claire was poised and ladylike in a green dress with daisies, while Lucie was a bit spunkier in a bright tie-dye top and sparkly cardigan, paired with a frilly skirt.

The girls began their salon session with a choreographed dance Claire created as a submission to the 2009 National PTA Reflections Program. An arts achievement program, Reflections allows students to express themselves creatively through original works of art inspired by a pre-selected theme. The theme for 2009 was “Beauty is…” Claire completed the phrase with, “found in the ocean,” and went on to explain that within her dance she “used scarves to be the swirling water and vicious [shark] fins.”

The Haftecks engaged the audience with the graceful dance piece and then asked the adults to identify the sea creatures (an octopus, dolphin and a mermaid) that were featured in the work. The adults did a decent job in responding, although they needed some prodding from the youngsters to vocalize their answers. Claire too showed some reserve when prompted by Custodero to share the back-story of the dance. Claire and Lucie’s mother enthusiastically jumped in to help the 11-year-old.

“Claire was taking Chinese dance lessons. We were away in France and Claire missed several classes. When we got back, she saw the dance the class had been working on and was eager to join in. Her teacher had Claire stay on the side and watch the other students. She was not allowed to join in,” her mother recounted.

“The teacher wanted me to learn how to do it [the dance], before I could do it,” Claire interjected. It was apparent as Claire and her mother took turns retelling the story that the fact that Claire’s teacher wanted her to master the technique, before participating was frustrating. “So,” her mother continued,” she created a dance on her own.” And it was this dance that she submitted to the National PTA Reflections Program.

“I think what I did was creative. I used what I saw [in the Chinese dance class] and used my own moves to create my choreography,” Claire shared as she looked down at the ground and shuffled with her feet a bit. That was her definition of creativity.

It was quite an astonishing thing for the 11-year-old to say, especially since later that day, during his keynote address, accomplished author and Columbia alumnus, Steven Berlin Johnson, would echo the same idea: creativity is not coming up with a wholly original idea, but borrowing from things we are exposed to and mixing them together to create something unique. As Johnson stated in his presentation, “creativity and innovation is about imaginative reuses of others’ ideas.” Would you agree? How would you define creativity?

National PTA Reflections Program: