Dance like No One is Watching

Can you teach an old dog new tricks? I am not sure I would call myself an old dog yet, but I am going to try! In an attempt to learn something new, I am going to learn how to choreograph. First, yes I realize I was supposed to start this a tad earlier (for ECMP 355), however I did in fact. I have just realized that I am horrendous at actually getting around to typing and posting the blogs I write out. That being said, here we go…

So to start I will note that I do have a limited background in dance. I say limited because I was in Baton for a few years growing up, the occasional year of Jazz and Tap off and on for a couple years, and I was in a ‘casual’ Hip Hop group for two year in high school – I am not a professional at all. Also, there is a huge difference between learning choreography that someone has prepared and actually preparing the choreography to work together with the music. I chose to learn this because I really do love dancing and I think it is a valuable skill to know and develop the ability to coordinate dance and music together. Also, as an Arts Education student my major is in dance and my minor in music concurrently with my Bachelor of Dance. That being said, it is a skill I would like to learn and develop sooner rather than later. I have also noticed that I am rather oblivious to the actual technical side of dancing. While I like a good jam session and can learn choreography relatively well, I do not actually know much about styles or specific moves. Getting started the first thing I did, naturally, is go ahead and Google “how to choreograph” and interestingly I did not find anything very useful. I’m not sure what possessed me to do so, but a few days later I figured I would try again and see if the results had changed, surprisingly and thankfully they had. I then began to compile all of the lists of what is important to consider while making choreography and what I need to do to make a successful piece. According to a few wikihow pages the 9 step guide includes:

  1. Select a style
  2. Choose a song that complements your style
  3. Before beginning to write the routine, compile a list of workable steps
  4. Listen to the song carefully and identify sections
  5. Sometimes it helps to draw the music – draw a squiggly line that identifies how the melody flows
  6. Just start dancing
  7. Get basic foot work (routine) down, then add arm movements
  8. Practice
  9. Be yourself!

While another 10 step guide said:

  1. Pick a song
  2. Pick your partner or dancers, if anyone
  3. Divide lyrics in song into groups (sections)
  4. What dance moves can you do? Make them fit to the beat
  5. Create moves to go with the musical sections (Step 3)
  6. If teaching, make sure everyone can keep up and is following along
  7. Practice!
  8. Get the opinion of others
  9. For performance: coordinate outfits
  10. When performing: smile

And lastly, a less step-by-step guide and more of a quick-tip-reminder:

  1. Get inspired: find a piece of music and listen to it over and over.
  2. Be prepared – not rigid: come ready with a plan for rehearsal, but be open to making changes as things go.
  3. Get your message across: make sure you are explaining the movements in an understandable way.
  4. Keep things fresh: stay true to your unique voice and make sure the dance is coming from you.

As I am gathering the information and understand what I have to do I am realizing there are so many different aspects to take into account as I am going, and there is an abundance of each dance company’s own suggestions. After looking over a multitude I will compile my own list (in a somewhat general order) of what I should be doing to learn how to effectively put something together.

  • Pick a genre and style.
  • Pick a song.
  • Listen to the music. A lot.
  • Start dancing – see if something works with the music and what I want to work into the flow of the music.
  • Research other dancers, choreographers, and dance moves/steps I want to incorporate.
  • Break up the music into sections.
  • Creative moves to go with each section – write them down.
  • Put the sections together and PRACTICE!
  • Teach it?
  • Remember to contrast – angular vs curved, gentle vs strong, slow vs fast, levels of movements…etc.

I feel that this is a fairly good start of a to-do list for now, and as I go if there are any extra things I should consider I will have to add them then. As for now I am off to go listen to some music, jam out, and pick some good songs to complement the style of dance I want (I already know what style, but I have to have a few secrets for my next post).

Until next dance break…

Sara

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3 thoughts on “Dance like No One is Watching

  1. Pingback: Over 100 million songs, I picked 4 | Welcome to Sara Johnson's Compilation of Thoughts

  2. Pingback: Why do they like singing on the ‘and’ of 1 or 4? Why?! | Welcome to Sara Johnson's Compilation of Thoughts

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