How to choreograph a contemporary dance solo
6 Steps to Choreographing Your First Dance Solo
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Whether you’re choreographing a dance solo for a student or for yourself, it’s definitely a skill that you’ll be glad you’ve honed. If you’re trying your hand at choreographing a dance solo for the first time, the process can seem a bit daunting. If you take it step-by-step, though, you’ll be able to achieve your goal. And you’ll find a great sense of accomplishment in creating & performing choreography that’s distinctively your own!
Step 1: Plan the Music
Before you begin trying to add choreography to a song, consider your intended audience and production aim, making sure each song you choose is the right length and is appropriate for that venue. Try to determine the musical style that offers you the greatest amount of inspiration. You want the song to be one with which the soloist will connect. As you listen to a potential song, imagine dancing to it. Once you decide on a song, you may want to count beats and make other notes about the song as you get to know it.
Step 2: Move to the Movement
As you listen to the song repeatedly, start moving to the music. You’ll get a feel for where particular moves work best with the lyrics, the rhythms, or both. As you continue doing certain moves at certain times, you’ll start to find your groove. If you’re creating the choreography in order to teach it to someone else, it’s still a good idea to dance to the song yourself without any pre-planned steps and see how the music leads you.
Step 3: Add More Steps
Once you’ve chosen some basic moves that coincide with the mood and lyrics of the song, you’ll need to fill in the gaps. As you consider additional steps, be sure they’re in keeping with the tempo, rhythm, and mood. Using distinct steps, you can demonstrate passion and energy, making those steps highlights of your solo.
Step 4: Put It on Paper
You (or the dancer who will be performing your choreography) will have an easier time memorizing the steps if they’re written down on paper. Seeing the dance steps written down can really help the process along; perhaps you’ll realize you should add more turns or that you’ve left out a certain type of move. Don’t worry if after writing it down, you decide to change it up — it’s all part of the creative process!
Step 5: Practice to Perfection
Remember, only perfect practice makes for a perfect performance. As you practice, make sure all the steps coordinate fluidly with one another. You will know you’ve rehearsed the solo enough when you can perform the moves without even thinking about them.
Step 6: Prepare for the Big Day
As you prepare for your solo dance performance, try to plan for a full day of relaxation, free from practicing or even thinking about your solo. That margin period will help you avoid freezing up when you’re on stage. When it comes time for the performance, you’ll be ready to dance your heart out!
Filed Under: Dance
How to Choreograph Your Own Competition Solo
Today, 20-year-old choreographer Emma Bradley spends her days touring with the dance convention NRG Dance Project, making work for students across the U.S. and Australia. But her first choreographic ventures were far more personal: During her junior and senior years of high school, Bradley started creating her own solos for dance competitions. “Making work on my body totally influenced the way I think about and process choreography,” she says. “And it set me on a different artistic path than I imagined.”
These days, more and more dancers are testing out self-choreographed solos at competitions. It can be risky—you could be going up against seasoned choreographers like Travis Wall—but the potential rewards make it worth taking the chance. “Choreographing your own solo is an invaluable learning experience,” says Andrew Winghart, a judge and choreographer for JUMP Dance Convention. “It forces you to look outside of yourself as a dancer, to really analyze your facility and how you can look your best.” Tempted to try your hand at self-choreography? Read on to find out more about taking creative control.
Emma Bradley performing her self-choreographed solo, “Hater,” at The PULSE on Tour (photo by Propix, courtesy Emma Bradley)
Do pick a song you enjoy listening to
. “It’s so much easier to choreograph for yourself if you choose a song that already resonates with you,” says 18-year-old Regan Norton, who competed self-choreographed contemporary solos during her junior and senior years of high school. Finding a personal connection with your music is a great first step toward making something that’s truly you.
If you know what style you want your solo to be, start by listening to music that will complement it—and you. Take note of musical artists that catch your attention, and explore their greater bodies of work on iTunes or YouTube. Or, look to your own iPod for inspiration, like Bradley does. You never know what gems you’ll rediscover.
Don’t use a song that’s in the Top 40
. There’s a good chance that many other soloists have “connected” with it, too. “We tend to get a lot of the same songs,” says Brett Hahalyak, a judge at Nexstar, World-Class Talent Experience and International Dance Challenge. “I like to hear things that are kind of out of the box, rather than popular or current music.”
Do create a solo that showcases you and your talents
. One way to learn how you move best is to improvise when you start your choreographic process. “I would record my improv and see what kind of choices I made repeatedly,” says Bradley. Incorporating those
favorite movement patterns into your choreography will help the final product feel more natural to your body.
Don’t rely on tricks alone
. It can be tempting to pack all of your most crowd-pleasing stunts into one solo. But with little more than two minutes onstage, you need to leave some time to tell your story. Throughout your creative process, think about what the piece means to you—and how you can communicate that message through movement. “I want to see a moment where you become more than just a dancer onstage,” Winghart says. “I want to see you take time to connect with the audience.” As much as you may love the wow factor of 16 turns in second, it’s probably not the best way to make that connection.
Do challenge yourself
. Setting goals for your solo throughout the year can keep it from getting stale after the first few performances. Both Bradley and Norton adjusted their solos after competitions, adding new, more difficult movements as they felt ready. “The great thing about doing your own solo is you can kind of edit as you go,” Winghart says.
Don’t present something unpolished
. While it’s important to push yourself, make sure you allow enough time to practice and clean each section before your performance. The stage is not the place to debut that new triple pirouette or switch leap. “You have to be super-solid in all elements before you get onstage,” Hahalyak says. If you can’t consistently perform a move in the studio, don’t bring it in front of the judges!
Do ask a teacher to stop by and help you with your process
. Sure, you have ultimate creative control, but it’s still a good idea to have another pair of eyes looking on. This can be especially helpful when the dreaded choreographer’s block sets in.
It can also keep you on schedule. For example, when Winghart was choreographing his own competition solos, he would give his teacher a specific time to watch the finished piece. “She would hold me to those deadlines,” he remembers.
Don’t let your teacher’s opinion overshadow your creative vision
. As the choreographer, you have the final say about what goes onstage. And while your teacher may have more experience making work, you know yourself better than anybody. Trust your gut!
how girls perform solo and win competitions
On December 4-5, an international tournament was held as part of the Alliance Trophy. Our student Katya Chernik reached the finals in the category Solo Children-1 (8-9 years old) Beginners and took 6th place out of 20 participants. And this is only the beginning, further - more and higher. Congratulations and proud!
Katya came to the Fiesta Academy to dance in pairs. By the time he moved to the professional group, the partner decided not to continue training, but he couldn’t find another. As we remember, there are three times more girls in ballroom dancing than boys. But Katya did not give up, did not give up her favorite thing and continued to study in the solo direction group.
It is believed that a girl can forget about ballroom dancing if she has not found a partner for two years. After all, ballroom dancing is a pair sport. Our students prove that a girl can build a sports career in dancing without a partner and successfully perform solo at international competitions.
What is a solo direction?
Solo direction - these are all the same steps and figures from ballroom dances that the dancer performs alone. More often these are girls, but boys can also solo on the floor.
The solo direction differs from ballroom dancing not only in that the dancer enters the floor alone. In a couple, the girl dances at her partner and interacts emotionally with him. In a solo performance, she demonstrates emotions towards the judge and interacts not with her partner, but with the jury and the audience. This requires a bright presentation and acting from the dancer, and the judges equally evaluate technique and artistry.
It is not surprising that such an emotional discipline as solo develops within the framework of Artistic DanceSport. This is a relatively new direction and one of the 7 divisions of the VADF dance organization.
What is WADF?
WADF - World Federation of Artistic Dance. It includes 865 dance schools and organizations from Europe, CIS countries, Scandinavia, Asia and Africa and Latin America .
In 2021, the Fiesta Children's Dance Academy also became a member of the VADF. Now we are actively developing the solo direction.
The mission of the WADF is to enable all dancers to participate in international competitions, regardless of their class and dance level, including girls and girls who have not found a partner. The Federation proves that competitive dancing is primarily art and culture, and not just a sport.
WADF members compete in 7 directions, which include 56 competitive disciplines.
- acrobatic and cheerleading shows;
- ballet and contemporary dance show;
- cultural dances: ethno, folk, Bollywood, Afro-Cuban dances, belly dance;
- street styles: hip-hop, house, dance hall, electric boogie, popping;
- pop dance and disco freestyle;
- ballroom dancing in pairs: standard and latin;
- ballroom dancing solo, in duets and groups.
We have listed only the main disciplines to show what opportunities our membership in the VADF opens for dancers. You can read more about all directions on the official website of the organization.
Solo, duet, formation: what discipline of artistic dance to choose?
As part of artistic dance, girls can perform ballroom dancing:
- in a duet or trio. Although the dancer does not enter the floor alone, this is not the same as dancing in pairs. Partners interact with each other, their movements are mirrored. In a duet, the dancers repeat each other's movements in sync and perform them for the judges;
- formation - ensembles with a different number of participants. Within the framework of the show, the dancers do not just dance in sync: they line up in various figures, move around the stage and change the picture in the process of dancing.
The advantage of a solo direction is that a girl can combine several disciplines at once: train and perform solo, in a duet, be a member of the formation and at the same time remain in a pair. There are a lot of niches for development in ballroom dancing. Try it and choose yours.
How does Solo referral help girls feel confident?
Our students choose a solo direction not only for the sake of a sports career. Like ballroom dancing, solo direction is about all-round development:
- physical development;
- mental health;
- mental abilities;
- aesthetic development;
- volitional qualities.
But these are not all the advantages of a solo direction. Most importantly, training helps girls open up and love themselves. We notice the difference after the first tournament. Pupils come to class timid and embarrassed, afraid to make an extra move or show emotions, but with each training session they become bolder. The support of the audience and the feeling of one's own importance as an artist already at the first tournament helps to believe in oneself.
But it's not just about speaking in public. Dancing transforms the figure of a girl. A slender silhouette, confident gait, straight posture, graceful movements - only this already helps to feel beautiful and gives confidence. In addition, in training we learn to relax, present ourselves, express emotions and our "I" in the dance, as required by the solo direction.
Confidence on the floor helps girls in their adult lives. With the same ease and courage, they first recite a poem in front of the class, then defend their diploma, successfully pass interviews and create a happy family.
Program and enrollment in the "Solo for Girls" group
Small forms in choreography - features of the staging process
You will learn
How to make solo or duet not boring - after all, they do not have many different drawings and mass energy?
What should be taken into account when preparing tender number ?
How to fill space 9 0125 scenes when participants are few ?
It's no secret that small forms are a "rare genre" for most directors. There are reasons for this:
- they are more difficult to put, the drawings cannot be “screwed up”, you have to take vocabulary;
- it is more difficult to build a plot, especially in a duet or solo;
- dancers must be strong and artistic - in such a production you can't hide behind someone else's back...0125 for both dancers and choreographer. Asya Belaya's course will help you overcome the difficulties of in working with such numbers!
The first lesson - an introduction to the basics of CBT
You will learn about the features of modern choreography and about the basic concepts of CBT :
- idea, composition, vocabulary;
- methods of Rudolf Laban;
- how a choreographer can develop an individual style;
- which can serve as an incentive for the author's choreography;
- ways of composing a dance.
This knowledge will be useful for to work on any production of - be it small form , mass number or dance performance .
The second lesson is devoted to working with solo numbers
All the techniques described in it are universal — and they can be used in any dance style .
An expert will tell:
- how to use improvisation in working with a soloist;
- what kind of art can solo choreography be combined with;
- how to develop the dramaturgy of the performance;
- what is the meaning of William Forsyth's movement system;
- how the personality of a dancer influences the production of a solo and much more.
Having mastered this material, you will be able to use it both for solo performances and for composing solo parts in mass numbers and performances .
Duet dance - the theme of the third lesson
Why this form is attractive and what mistakes directors should avoid when working with duets — you will find out with an expert in this lesson.
You will learn :
- types of duets and principles of interaction between dancers in a pair;
- three methods (in each of them - from 3 to 5 options) of working with a choreographic text in a duet;
- how to use partners' improvisation and warm-up to search for vocabulary.