The Power of Choreography, It’s Not What You Think
There’s a bottom line to performing and dancing. This bottom line has to do with choreography and not just any choreography but YOUR choreography. If you don’t understand your own rhythm in dance and if you don’t take notice to how you hear music, choreography can be a hard road to travel. I am going to share with all of you, my Golden Rules and lessons that took years of learning because I believe choreography should not be as hard as it is made out to be. This information will help the beginning choreographer or the intermediate artiste, sparkle with inner confidence that comes from understanding the placement of combinations to music. The road to being a happy choreographer is within your grasp.
Rule 1, Listen
I can remember watching choreographies that worked and others that didn’t work and I always wondered why this happened. I would have this hit and miss problem myself, the first 10 years of my performing. If I didn’t follow Golden rule # 1, it didn’t matter how confident I was on stage, my performance would lag and fizzle out before it’s time.
This first easy step just takes minutes in a day that starts before you implement combinations and moves to your selected song. It’s called listening to your music by staying out of the way and allowing it to fill you up completely, pouring it’s meaning into your inspired thoughts. If I didn’t listen to the music in it’s perspective significance, I would miss what it was telling me. Hearing music and listening to music are two different things. If a dancer forces moves to fit to music that doesn’t tell the implied story, whether it’s orchestrated music or Arabic pop doesn’t matter, she will never become the tool or the instrument of the music. Forced choreography is the number one problem in the beginning years because many dancers want to hear with their upbringing and cultural backgrounds instead of listening with an educated and esthetic open mind and ear.
With ethnic dancing, it’s the element of mysterious and dissimilar customs besides the unknown exploration of different movements that entice us into learning. Listening to music unfolds and opens up our understanding of how it is composed. Sit back, relax and allow yourself to be taken away to magical lands, love impassioned lyrics or drum beats of thunderous horses riding the distant sands. Where you go in the mind becomes a polished choreography on stage.
My first performance was in front of a standing room only crowd. I was performing with dancers from the New Mexico Dance Coalition and we were televised live for a local TV station. Nerves and emotions ran so high, that the following morning, I felt like I had a huge hang over. I didn’t perform at all for weeks afterward and felt like I would be just fine if I had to perform again. The one problem with thinking this way has to do with, Rule # 1. I stopped listening to my music and this cost me the next time I performed.
I was invited to perform for an outside event on a small stage. It seemed to be a stress free event and I was looking forward to performing in a beautiful backyard with huge cotton wood trees giving wonderful shade and a patio with a fireplace in the middle of it and pansies sprawled out all over in buckets, flowerbeds and wall gardens. The colors were a delight to take in and the light breeze was welcoming because it was a mid afternoon performance.
I walked out onto the little stage and once my music started…I was a lost cause!
The music no longer spoke to me because I stopped listening to what it had to say. My great triumph was followed by a great failure. If a choreography is not practiced, perfected and maintained, it will eventually look tattered, falling apart at the seams. You can’t hide this from an audience because they don’t know, not to look at the finished piece. They will instinctively see the flaws.