Monday, March 26, 2007

Choreography 101

With the show quickly approaching, many of my students are putting the finishing touches on their solo choreographies. I realize that choreographing a dance is not an easy task, so if you are attempting to put together your first choreography, kudos to you!!

I've choreographed many dances in my life (bellydance and other) and I've watched many students perform their own choreographies for the first time. Here are some observations I've made, that may guide you as you put your dance together:

1) Listen to the music! Too many times, I see a student choreography that does not interpret the music the student is dancing too. You should keep in mind that you are dancing TO the music, not just dancing with music in the background. Don't just string together eight counts of one step, eight counts of another, eight counts of another, and so on, regardless of what the music is doing. If the music is changing rhythm, or tempo, change your steps to match. If there are accents in the song, hit the accents with your body. The whole point of dance (any type of dance) is to interpret music. Let that come through in your own choreographies.

2) Take up the whole stage! (Or dance studio, or living room...). Don't just stand in one place and do your steps. Especially if you are choreographing a solo! One person on a stage, standing in one place, will get lost. Use traveling steps, take up the whole stage, and make your presence felt!

3) Choose a song that works for you! Don't try to force yourself to choreograph to a classical Egyptian song, if you normally go the pop music route. You need to be inspired to choreograph; chosing a song that doesn't speak to you will make the process even more difficult. An uninspired choreography is no fun to watch!

So, now what? You have your song, you are inspired, you are ready to cover ground and interpret to your music. What do you do now? Well, listen to the music. Put the song on and just dance around your house to it. See what the song makes you want to do. Do this a few times, and try to remember some of the steps you feel most natural doing to this song. Then, listen to the first few counts of 8 (or 6, or whatever your song is). Choreograph that section only, really listening to the music and using it to your advantage. Do the rest of the dance the same way - a small section at a time. If you get stuck, go back to step one - just let the music play and start dancing. You will be inspired again, and can draw from that inspiration to add to your choreography.

Good luck!


kara :) said...

I just wanted to give "kudos" to Tereza for being creative & brave with her solo for the show. For those of you who have not sen it yet, she cheorographed her dance to the music perfectly, as mentioned in Daniella's posting. I thought of her as I started to read it.

Kimberly said...

This blog "spoke" to me as well. I've been so focused on finding a taped choreo to mimic (being my first attempt at a solo) and just haven't found anything that "speaks" to me. I was hanging out with a friend last week and mentioned that I was thinking about doing a solo to this song I picked up while in Greece last year. He was kinda pysched...being Greek and all. I would describe it as a Greek pop/techno song and I've liked it since the minute I heard it. I was listening to it this morning on the train and I THINK (commitment-phobe) I CAN DO IT!!! It's got these nice 'badumpdedumps' (Kara and Daniella laughing right now) that I could really swing my hips too! I might just give that "10 year old Shakira" a run for her money! :)

kara :) said...

Kim, I was in tears when i read your "badumupdedumps" comment. Then laughed harder at the remark about me & Daniella after it. Shimmy on girl!!!!

K. Stone said...

Thank you for this great advice. I have linked to it on my new bellydance site.