You want to try to choreograph a dance combination? Congrats! It’s super fun! Choreographing is a great way to explore your creative side. Whether you want to create this combination for yourself or for the world to see, here are my tips.
Build the foundation.
You need to decide what song you’re going to dance to, and what dance style the combination is going to be. These two building blocks of your combination are often quite related to each other. If you wanted to choreograph a jazz combination, you’ll likely want to pick a song with a faster pace and a strong beat. If you want to dance to Enya, you’re probably not going to be doing hip hop or tap.
Pick a song, and pick a dance style, and you’ve got the foundation of your combination ready to go.
4 Ways to Create
There are more than 4 ways to create a dance combination, but there are only 4 ways that I’m going to lay out today.
Way 1: Just start dancing and see what happens.
This is probably the scariest way for a beginner to try choreographing. Just see what happens? No rules? No guidance?
I know it sounds crazy, especially if you’ve been a classically trained dancer your whole life. But now you’re in charge! Just dance, see what feels good, and fit it into your choreography.
Way 2: Make a kind-of-sort-of game plan ahead of time.
If I’m using this technique to choreograph, I usually end up listening to the song several dozen times so I can be extremely familiar with its larger journey and its smaller details. I’m listening for climaxes, dynamics (soft and loud parts), tempo changes, instrumentation, rhythm, and accents. I might decide for one phrase I want the movement to match the voice, and for the next phrase I want to bring out the drumbeat.
This ‘planning’ can be done all ahead of time, or it can happen in bits and pieces. There is no right way to create.
Way 3: Take it slow, explore body movement, and set it to music after.
You might be choreographing a combination that’s less about bringing out the music and more about body exploration. You might start your combination in a funky pose that you’ve never tried out before and then – without even turning the music on – see how your body can move from that pose, and then see how it flows into another move, and so on and so on. After you’ve built a progression, maybe you’ll turn on the music for the first time and see how the progression fits in.
Way 4: Use a random list of words to guide you.
I like using this one on my students. Write down a bunch of words on a piece of paper. They can be anything like hit, jump, slide, elbow, high, tap, wiggle, happy, ring, ANYTHING. Rip your paper up so you have a jumble of words and put it into a hat or container. Start choreographing your combo and whenever you get stuck or need a little bit of guidance, draw a word out of your hat and use it to help you figure out what the next move or phrase will be. Just because the word you drew said ‘jump’ doesn’t mean you have to jump next. Maybe just one body part does a ‘jump’. Nothing is set in stone in this exercise.
- Choreographing is a creative activity. Feel free to play and explore and have fun with it!
- Be okay with going back and changing something if it doesn’t feel right. Writers edit their work, you can revise your choreography!
- Don’t constantly second-guess yourself. There comes a point where you just have to trust that what you’ve created is good. If you’re always fixing the combination and never trusting yourself, you’ll never finish.
If you end up trying any of these techniques for choreographing a dance combination, let me know! I’d love to know how it went!
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