So far on the blog we’ve covered how to choreograph a dance combination, how to choregraph a group routine, and a general choreographer’s checklist of the things you need to think about when creating a dance piece.
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Today we’re going to talk about how to choreograph a solo!
Figure out the basics.
Much like choreographing any other dance, you need to figure out the theme of your routine, the dance style, the length, the music, etc.
Take some time to get to know your soloist.
A solo is different from a group routine because all eyes will always be on one dancer for the whole piece. This means you’ll want to put in your dancer’s greatest tricks and avoid the skills in which they’re less confident. You’ll also want to keep in mind their personal dance style and where they seem to shine most. If your dancer is really great at isolating their movement, maybe don’t give them a solo that calls entirely for fluidity.
Listen to that music.
I cannot stress how important it is to get to know your music! When I’m choreographing, I listen to the song a couple dozen times to start creating ideas in my head. Listen for lyrics, mood, dynamics, rhythms, crescendos, all of it.
Make your outline.
Just like with a group routine, I like to build a framework for my choreography. I think about where the soloist should begin, where I can put certain elements, where I want the climax of the routine to be, and where and how they should end the piece. This outline will probably change once I get into putting the piece on the dancer, but it’s a great starting place and will give me some guidance if I’m feeling a little lost in the moment.
Be mindful of endurance.
Your soloist is the only person onstage. That means they don’t get to have a moment where they’re doing still poses while the other half of the group does jeters across the stage. That soloist is going 100% for 2-3 minutes straight. This means you should try to avoid making choreography that will destroy your dancer’s energy within the first 30 seconds. Don’t get me wrong, solos are usually harder on a dancer than a group routine, but the soloist should still be able to perform the moves with energy even in the last 10 seconds.
Try a little collaboration.
This point doesn’t apply to young children, but once my dancers start getting a little older, I like to give them a little leeway on a couple things in their routine, like picking their own pose, or asking them what arm movement feels better with a specific move. I can always adjust their choices if I really think it won’t do. But letting your soloist collaborate with you in their routine will help build choreography that is true to them. The truer choreography is to your soloist, the better it will look on them.
Last step. Choreograph!
Whether you do this on the fly, in your kitchen, or a little bit of both is up to you. Just be ready to make changes if something isn’t working.
- Where to Find Inspiration for Choreography
- How to Choreograph a Dance Combination
- 6 Ways Music Theory Made Me a Better Dancer
Choreographing for soloists is an extra special treat because you really get to know that individual much more deeply than in a group setting. And they get a treat in having a routine that is just right for them.
Do you have any questions about choreographing? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or through my email!
Until next time!