I’ve been thinking about mistakes. Specifically, the mistakes that are made on purpose.
Check out Jerome Robbins’ The Concert below to see what I mean.
All of the steps— and more importantly, the missteps— were choreographed exactly as you see them.
There’s a term for this in visual music. It’s called a counterpoint: a piece of the composition that fits within the general system but stands out in some way. A splash of color in a world of gray. Without a counterpoint, a composition that follows a fixed structure feels predictable and robotic; with the addition of a counterpoint, a composition feels more interesting and natural. More human.
Structure is expected— it gives people something familiar to latch onto. But no one asks for counterpoints. They won’t be requested in surveys, and they won’t be discussed after test screenings. They don’t seem like they belong, but their absence almost guarantees a mediocre and forgettable experience.
It’s easy to make what people know to ask for. It’s easy to craft a narrative that follows a three-act structure, and easy to follow the countless other rules that generally apply to your situation. It’s much harder to break away from the norm, and make purposeful mistakes that breathe life into your work.