In this week’s Creative Spotlight we introduce you to the extraordinary and multitalented Katie Jay! Using meditation as a source of creativity and change as a source of inspiration, she masters her astonishing life as a burlesque dancer, costume designer, singer and yoga teacher – ‘in a very calm and organic way’.

What do you do?

I am a burlesque performer/producer and a yoga/meditation teacher. I also write a little.

What is your most recent obsession?

Old photographs. I’ve been on the hunt for old 80s photo frames – the ones with the differently shaped mounting in each frame – I want all of my old photographs on the walls. Although to be honest I’ve had more of a personal obsession over the last couple of months. He smells like leather and tobacco.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

I’m supposed to say world peace, aren’t I? World hunger? The corporate structure? Oh you know what, I’d bring Bowie back and put him in charge of the world. 

What is your definition of ‘having your shit together’?

Awareness. Your lifestyle can be whatever you like, you can make any choice you want, as long as it’s done with awareness. We will continually make “mistakes”, having your shit together just means learning from them, growing. 

What inspires you?

Aesthetically – I find anything 70s or reminiscent of the 70s inspiring. I’m very visual so colourful movies, images, photographers, artists and descriptive novels – I find them all inspiring. I find the biggest inspiration for creative output is change. Change in perspective, lifestyle, surroundings, relationships. Anything that involves a safe amount of disruption will inspire me. Either that or perpetual routine and calm. If I am on a meditation retreat for example, my perception of things will become sharper and I’ll be very inspired and creative. 

What advice do you have for an aspiring creative?

Can one be an aspiring creative? Creatives need to create. You’ll just do it. You won’t be able to not create. Just be open to creating in different ways than expected. I often flip between creating burlesque acts to sewing costumes to writing to playing guitar to singing to making stuff with my hands and then It’ll all come around and l’ll have another act ready to go. It all feeds off each other, providing inspiration for each creative task.

And make money somewhere else. That’s a personal opinion and many creatives will disagree. But I find, for me, as soon as I have to start making money from what I do creatively, I start to hate it. So I keep it seperate. But a lot of creatives love making their living from what they do and do it well.

What are your biggest challenges as a creative?

Honouring the time involved is important to me. I like things to come together organically and I can’t force an act or a costume or a show. If I’m not feeling it, working on it can be very draining but when I am feeling it, it can be very energising. Realising that a creative process is a process, not just an end result and honouring that is something I find many creatives struggle with. We have to fill up the well first – find inspiration, mull over it. For me that involves finding a piece of music, listening to it on the walk to and from work for about a month before I have enough of a concept to play with choreography or outfits. Having said that, I work well to deadlines. I’ve just learnt to give myself long deadlines!

What role does Mindfulness play in your creativity and/or life?

It’s integral. Mindfulness is pretty much my home base. And if I don’t spend enough time sitting with it, I turn into the female version of woody allen. I was introduced to meditation when I was very young and it’s become one of the most important things in my life. 

But I have a slightly different concept of mindfulness than what most people in today’s society do. I practice quite a rebellious form of Buddhist Insight Meditation, called Recollective Awareness. It’s a little different from traditional mindful meditation (Vipassana) as it allows thought, memory and sensation into the practice (MindFULLness) rather than developing a one pointed focus. It invites one to let the experience during a sit be whatever it might be. Creatively this approach has been extremely useful – I’ve been sitting in meditation and come up with full acts – costuming, music, choreography, everything – in a very calm and organic way. A lot of people who feel like they can’t meditate or feel they aren’t very good at it find this approach very useful.

You can follow Katie’s movements on Facebook here and here or on instagram at @katiejayyoucheekymoney and @erayoga for a more visual representation. She’s got a show coming up at Burlesque In Hand in June – Find the details here. And Make sure you keep an eye out for her coming productions ‘Circus a Go Go’ at Oxford Circus in July and another ‘Wheels on Fire show‘ to coincide with the Absolutely Fabulous movie opening later in the year. xx