How to start choreographing a dance
10 pro tips to get started
Creating movement from scratch to encompass the feeling, rhythm, and theme of a song takes a little imagination and some work, whether you're a beginner or getting ready for a big performance. When you're including the movements and dance phrases for multiple performers, too, choreographing a dance can get quite complicated. That's why we're giving you some top pro tips on how to choreograph a dance when you're feeling stuck, including methods you can use to step outside the box and spice up your routine.
1. Study the Music
If you know what music you want to choreograph your dance to, start studying. Go beyond creating movements based on the rhythm and beat of the song, and study the lyrics, the emotion, and the meaning behind the song. You can find inspiration from the feelings you get when you read the words, and embrace the emotion the artist puts into the song.
Poppin' C, a Swiss popping dancer, says, "The music is everything for me, because the way my body adapts and moves, is because of the way I feel the music. " By knowing every part of your music inside and out, you can design dance moves that really work with the beat and lyrics.
B-boy Junior holds a breaking workshop at Red Bull BC One Camp in Mumbai
© Ali Bharmal / Red Bull Content Pool
2. Watch the Pros
Take some time to watch dance-heavy musicals, like "Chicago" and "Anything Goes," competitive series like "World of Dance," and even street performers, like Logistx, to grab some inspiration for your moves. Observe the styles, transitions, and combinations of movements and note how pro dancers create a physical connection to the music. This can help motivate you to create dances that get the audience to connect with your physical interpretations of the music.
3. Plan for Audience and Venue
Think about who your performance or event is for. Consider the venue you're performing at, too, because your dance environment can help you find ways to creatively express emotion. Lighting, sound, and the overall ambiance of your venue can help you design dances that incorporate mood and emotion to connect with the audience during your performance.
4. Think About Dance Style
Choreograph with steps and dance moves that reflect a specific style. You might try incorporating hip hop steps into a classical dance to mix it up and create your own unique dance style, for example. If you're just starting out with dance choreography, try focusing on learning how to balance a specific style of dance with your unique interpretation of the music you're dancing to.
Kid David poses for a portrait at Red Bull Dance Your Style USA Finals
© Carlo Cruz/Red Bull Content Pool
5. Focus on the Basic Elements
Focus on one (or several) of the most basic elements of dance: shape, form, space, time, and energy. For form, you can focus on designing phrases and steps based on a specific form from nature, like an animal or landform. Use your stage space to showcase explosive energy and give certain aspects of your performance a punch of emotion that keeps your audience engaged.
6. Don't Start at the Beginning
If you're stuck trying to figure out how to start your dance, plan it out from the middle or from the end. Tell a story through your dance choreography and plan out the climatic elements before the small steps to help you flesh out where you want to go with your ideas. Once you've outlined the basic structure of your choreography, piece it together into an entire work.
7. Try Choreographing Without Music
Dance in silence. It might seem like a crazy idea since you're choreographing the dance to a specific song. However, just letting your body move and flow with different tunes you imagine can help you step outside your comfort zone and incorporate challenging moves and dance steps that you might not have thought to pair with a song or score. When you discover something you like, pair it with other steps you've already developed and start fitting your moves to the music.
Poppin C shows off his moves during a photoshoot in Lausanne
© Torvioll Jashari / Red Bull Content Pool
8. Embrace Post-Modernism
Study early modern dance forms and styles that can get your imagination flowing. Dancers from the mid-century modern era through the 1950s and '60s (such as Anna Halprin, one of post-modern dance's pioneers) would incorporate a whole world of nontraditional moves in their choreography. Slow walking, vocals, and even common gestures can make imaginative additions to your overall work.
9. Incorporate the Classics
Use classical ballet, traditional ballroom steps, or other classic dance moves to mix up your style. It can be a startling transition for an audience to see a classical ballet step snapped in between freestyle phrases. Combining classical techniques with your dance design can add interest and suspense to your performances.
10. Use Other Art Forms as Inspiration
Don't just focus on music and dance. Look at all kinds of art forms, from two-dimensional paintings to live art performances. Take note of the different emotions and use of space, shapes, and forms that different artworks incorporate, and think about your interpretations and how you can convey that in movement. Use this as fuel for your inspiration when choreographing short phrases. Keep up to date on new forms of art to get inspired and avoid the dreaded writer's block (for dancers).
More Pro Tips to Choreograph a Dance
Arlene Phillips CBE, a British choreographer and theater director, got her start pro dancing and choreographing in the 1970s. She's been the choreographer for a variety of performances over the years, including live theater. Her advice for aspiring dancers includes some helpful choreographing tips:
Tell the music's story through your movements
Keep practicing with imaginative steps
Be determined to learn from your mistakes
Challenge yourself with unique rhythms, styles, and techniques
Plan out your most impactful elements then work in additional steps around those
Keep practicing your choreographing techniques
Don't be afraid to learn something new
One of the most important things to keep in mind when choreographing a dance, though, is to embrace diversity. Don't be afraid to do something different or outside the norm. Try incorporating new styles or steps to make your dance fresh, and study all types of art to get excited about your work. The more you challenge yourself to think outside the box, the more creative and unique you can be with your choreography.
How To Choreograph A Dance Routine In 6 Simple Steps
Are you wondering how to choreograph a dance routine? Or if you even can???
The answer is YES, YOU CAN! And you totally should.
Choreographing isn't just for professional dancers with tons of clout. It's a skill that anyone can learn with a little practice and inspiration. Not sure how to start? Just follow this handy 6-step guide and start creating!
Finding the right song could be the easiest or hardest part of choreographing.
Sometimes, you hear a song for the first time and you know, you just KNOW, that it's the one.
Other times, you browse through your entire iTunes library, SoundCloud dashboard, Spotify playlists, and still don't feel anything.
But once you have a song and pick out the section you want to choreograph to, listen to it...A LOT. And don’t just listen – listen with intent.
Look up the lyrics to see how you relate to the meaning of the song. Discover hidden hi-hats and riffs that you can highlight.
Note the "pathways" for movement you want to take – do you want to hit a certain lyric? Or that dope double bass? Visualize ideas as you listen.
You don't need to come up with concrete moves, but understand how you wanna move. And if you need to cut your music, do that first.
Having to wait or skip around to different parts of the song can interrupt the process.
Some tips for finding songs: Best Ways For Dancers To Find New Music
Yes, you can watch videos from your favorite choreographers and remix their routines, but to make something unique to you, try drawing inspiration from your own life and the culture around you.
Read thought-provoking books, watch beautifully shot movies, check out MET Gala costumes, and visit cool museums!
All forms of art can inspire and fuel your art. When you see something inspiring, write it down so you can come back to those ideas later.
Even something simple like an interesting conversation with a friend can turn into a dance choreography idea or a new dance move.
Already feeling inspired? Watch this video to learn how to turn those ideas and concepts into dance moves!
Freestyling doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to be using those exact moves in your piece. In fact, you probably won’t even remember a lot of what you did!
The point is to let your body respond to the music. Play the whole song and let yourself move. Notice how you naturally groove to certain sounds.
This will be the first "layer" in your choreography. You can then try variations or build more intricate movements on top of it.
Not sure how to start freestyling? Read this article for a few more tips: How to Freestyle Dance
And if you put on a song you really love, but still can't come up with any moves, check out this video!
Clay gives you tips for creating unique movements, even when you think you have choreo block.
You probably decided to choreograph to the song because you thought certain sections would look dope on the body.
Is it a climax? A breakdown? An instrumental interlude?
Whatever it is, start with that part. You don’t have to choreograph chronologically from beginning to end.
Start with the chunks that come easier, then build the rest of the choreography around it.
After you've choreographed your favorite chunks, make sure to give some love to those in-between sections!
Just because it’s not a crazy beat combo doesn’t mean it doesn’t have potential to look amazing.
Sometimes it’s those slower moments that are the most memorable. Check out this piece from Galen – it's all about her presence and demeanor.
Even her simple movements are engaging because she's filling those calmer moments with presence, before she goes off in a powerful combo.
A lot of us have the problem of making choreography that looks good in our heads... But not on our bodies. At that point, you just gotta train yourself.
Some refer to this as “cleaning” or “setting,” which involves perfecting certain pictures you make with your body, looking at pathways between points, or drilling quick combinations.
Check out this article to learn more about the cleaning process: How To Execute Choreography Better By Utilizing Your Body With Carlo Darang (Choreo Cookies)
And remember: How you choreograph will be how the piece looks. So when you choreograph a dance, do the moves full out.
For example, if you want a plié somewhere, really bend those knees. Let body rolls go all the way through your body. If you’re doing floorwork – get on the floor!
It's not going to magically look amazing when you perform on stage or in front of the camera. Make it amazing as you're making it.
Watch this video to learn more about dancing full-out, in every moment.
There are probably moments within your piece that feel perfect to you. Don’t change those.
But the piece as a whole is probably a bit rough around the edges, especially if this is your first time choreographing.
As novelist Ernest Hemingway once said, “The first draft of anything is sh*t.”
So don’t worry if it’s not exactly what you wanted it to be. You can work your way there!
Do this by trying out variations of movements, scrapping some sections, changing directions, or adding floorwork – whatever you feel is necessary to “edit” the piece.
And honestly? That’s what makes creating so fun – trying things. Saying “Nope, not that,” or “YES oh my god, it worked!”
It’s supposed to take multiple drafts! Just keep editing until you’re done.
Of course, if you're a perfectionist, you might feel like your piece is never finished, but you gotta draw the line at some point.
While it’s awesome to try to keep improving your piece, there comes a point where you have to say “This is it. It's ready."
It's not about feeling like your piece is perfect. It's about making something that you feel proud to say you made. So when you're done, let it be.
Give yourself a pat on the back. Record the piece and share it with us via our STEEZY Studio members Facebook Group!
Thousands of dancers around the world are not only improving their dance skills on STEEZY Studio... they're joining our community and getting feedback from other dancers!
Click here to sign up for STEEZY ;)
Check out this video for a quick recap of this guide AND a few extra tips!
The main stages of staging a choreographic number
Naturally, each choreographer's staging process goes differently, each goes to the goal in his own way. There can be no canons, precise definitions, strict rules.
Someone immediately “sees” the whole dance, another only individual climaxes, elements of movements that characterize the image, the development of the action, and the third begins to stage the dance from the first bars of the music and, in the process of working on the production, composes, finds those figurative, expressive movements , which were born to another choreographer before the start of work.
But the defining beginning for all choreographers is one thing: they must be well acquainted with all the components of the production - the musical material, the layout of the stage, the costume of the performer.
Getting to work, the leader must remember one necessary condition. Whatever he puts on - a solo or mass dance, a pantomime scene - he is always obliged to follow the basic law of dramaturgy. Distinguish five main parts of the dance: exposition, plot, development of action, climax, denouement.
1. The exposition can turn out to be clear, intelligible, or vice versa, crumpled, slurred, drawn out.
The purpose of the exposure is the introduction into action. Here the audience gets acquainted with the characters: listening to music and watching the dancers, they understand that they are people of a certain nationality who live or lived in a particular era. The genre of dance becomes clear - folk-characteristic, folklore, historical or classical duet, solo variation, pas de trois, pas de quatre, mass, corps de ballet dance. Dance genres can be very diverse and the exposition, as it were, tunes the audience to the perception of one of them.
2. The tie - clear and bright or blurred, dull, invisible. The very name of this part indicates that it is tied here - the action begins: here the characters get to know each other, conflicts arise between them or between them and some third force. The playwright, screenwriter, composer, choreographer made the first steps in the development of the plot, which will subsequently lead to a climax.
Entering the stage and placing themselves in a certain pattern (in a straight line, in a semicircle, diagonally, etc.), the performers begin the actual dance. They make more complex movements, and we are interested in what happens next, after this start, how the dance will develop.
3. The development of the action (a series of steps before the culmination) can also be growing, strong or drawn out, dampening. This is the part of the story where the action takes place. The conflict, the features of which were determined in the plot, is gaining tension. Steps before the climax of the action can be built from several episodes. Their number and duration, as a rule, are determined by the dynamics of the development of the plot. From step to step, it should grow, bringing the action to a climax.
Some works require a rapidly developing drama, while others, on the contrary, require a smooth, slow pace of events. Sometimes, in order to emphasize the strength of the climax, it is necessary to resort to a decrease in the tension of the action for contrast.
4. The climax, like the opening, can be bright, impressive, the real pinnacle of the dance, or pale, timid, lacking the power to influence the audience. The climax is the highest point in the development of the dramaturgy of a choreographic work. Here the dynamics of the development of the plot, the relationship of the characters reaches the highest emotional intensity. Text - movements, postures in the appropriate angles, gestures, facial expressions and drawing - in its logical construction leads to the top.
In a plotless choreographic number, the climax should be identified by the appropriate plastic solution, the most interesting dance pattern, the most striking choreographic text, i.e. dance composition.
5. The denouement should be prepared organically by the entire course of the dance action, but it can be unjustifiably sudden, unconditioned by anything, and in another case - protracted, dampening, disrupting the whole impression of the dance. Ends an action. The denouement can be either instant, abruptly breaking off the action and becoming the finale of the work, or vice versa, gradual. This or that form of denouement depends on the task that its authors set for the work. The denouement is the ideological and moral result of the composition, which the viewer must realize in the process of comprehending everything that happens on the stage. Sometimes the author prepares a denouement unexpectedly for the viewer, but this surprise must also be born by the whole course of action.
The ability to use the laws of composition and apply them correctly is one of the most difficult, complex stages in the work of a choreographer. After all, not a single dance can be built according to some standard, each theme suggests to the composer its own special form of embodiment. The form of a dance composition depends on the ingenuity, experience and skill of the choreographer, on his knowledge of immutable laws.
Author: Ivanova Lyubov Aleksandrovna0003
Material published as part of the project “Publications”
How to put a wedding dance
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- Pargolovo 9000 9000 9000 Yes , can! For those who want to take the risk and try to stage their first dance on their own, I want to give some useful tips. I hope that they will help you competently plan and stage a harmonious wedding dance!
This article will be useful both for those who already know how to dance a little, and for those who are very enthusiastic and want to try their hand and come up with the dance of their dreams on their own. Your first wedding dance is in your hands!
So, what should be assessed and considered before proceeding with the production?
Size of the dance floor and ceiling height
If your dance floor is small, then when staging the dance, you should avoid movement with advancement around the ballroom, choosing more compact dance figures for your composition.
At the same time, if your venue is large, then it is advisable to include several figures in your dance, in which you will actively move around the hall, thus visually filling the space.
Let's take a simple example: a wedding dance set to the tempo of a fast (Viennese) waltz. For the case if you have a small dance floor, you should stop at the “figured waltz” option, performing the figures without advancing, and performing the waltz itself “in a square”.
If you have a large area, I suggest including a big circle waltz.
Ceiling height is important for high supports, the simplest of which is lifting the bride in her arms. Before performing such support, you need to make sure that the height of the ceilings allows it. For example, in some restaurants and on steamboats, it is problematic to perform high lifts.
All your movements, and especially postures, should be laid out in directions and oriented to the "spectator's" side. To begin with, determine the configuration of your dance hall, the place where you will go to dance, the place where the main part of the audience will be concentrated, where the photographer and videographer will stand.
All of your poses must be performed facing the audience. To do this, you need to decompose your dance into directions, so that for the performance of certain figures you find yourself facing your audience.
If you have 2 or more spectator sides, then you need to decompose your dance so that you alternately dance to one or the other spectator side. Preference should be given to the side where the photographer and videographer will stand.
You can put the dance to any musical composition you like. It should be borne in mind that it consists of musical phrases, which in turn are divided into measures. The main rules that I recommend to follow in order to achieve the musicality of your performance:
a) As soon as a new musical phrase begins, you must change the movement type. The simplest example: while the singer is singing one phrase, you make one movement, when he starts singing another phrase, you start making another movement. Most often in musical compositions there are verses, choruses and losses. They usually consist of several musical phrases.
b) Play with musical accents and puffs. Accents (beats in music) are perfectly played with rapid hand movements, a sudden stop in movement, or a sharp change in direction. Puffs are best suited for “smeared” smooth poses.
c) Within each musical phrase there are several measures (most often the time signature for modern compositions is 4/4, for a waltz 3/4). Try to hear them, isolate and decompose your movements into strokes, achieving clarity of execution.
Before decomposing your movements into music, I recommend doing a musical dictation: decomposing your music into phrases, measures, highlighting accents and puffs. And then to impose on them movements.
Suggested duration of the dance: about 3 minutes including entering the platform and bowing. If your musical composition is longer, then it is worth trimming it using software tools. A longer dance rarely looks good: the audience gets tired and the effect of the first impression is lost.
If you fundamentally do not want to shorten your melody, then I recommend inserting some pantomime scenes into it for contrast (scenes of a meeting, farewell, quarrel, reconciliation). This will advantageously set off the dance part and help make your performance more intense and interesting for the audience.
Physiology of the bride and groom
The appearance of the couple is very important for creating a harmonious dance.
Couples in which both the bride and groom have an ideal athletic physique and an ideal difference in height (10-15 cm) are few. All dance figures will suit these lucky ones.
But if your pair has features, then they must be taken into account and beaten, using 100%!
For example, for couples in which the groom is much taller than the bride (the difference in height is 20 cm or more), elements in which the groom goes down (visually becomes lower) and the bride remains standing will look very good. Also, for such a couple, support with rotation on the hands will look great, in which the bride is taken in her arms facing the groom (see photo above).
If there is a small difference in height between partners in a couple or the bride is taller than the groom, then supports are perfect for you, in which the bride deviates, and the groom remains standing straight. Elements in which the girl sits down on bent knees facing the groom will also look good. Rotation on the hands for such a pair is best done in a position when the girl is picked up sideways.
In couples where the bride has a more dense physique than the groom, we recommend avoiding elements with the bride lifting on her hands, in this case it is better to focus on the plasticity of the partner’s movements and courageous lines in the partner’s positions.
If you are staging your own wedding dance, you will most likely be using video footage. It would be a big mistake to simply copy the movements from someone else's dance.
When watching a video, be sure to select those movements that you understand how beautiful and correct to perform and avoid complex and incomprehensible elements.
You should also be aware that what looks easy and beautiful in a professional performance, for beginners, it may not look advantageous at all.
Think about whether the movements you like are right for your couple, whether you perform them well. Take a video of yourself and compare the resulting picture with the original. Leave only those movements that you are good at.
Advice for girls
Girls, think about the features of your wedding dress when staging a dance. If the dress is tight, then you should wear a tight skirt at the rehearsal in order to immediately avoid movements that you basically cannot do in this dress.
If you have a crinoline dress, then wear a crinoline at rehearsal so that you and your fiancé get used to its size. Remember that the crinoline creates some distance between you in the dance, as well as inertia in the rotations.
If you have a train - then you need to either stab it or support it with your hand. Accordingly, during rehearsals, always keep something in the hand that will be occupied by the train. Often the choice of movements for a wedding dance is largely dictated by the bride's wedding dress!
When working on the wedding dance on your own, you need to start staging about 2 months before the wedding. Chances are you won't have much time right before the wedding, and a good staging is time-consuming (especially if you don't have any dance experience), so it's best to start working on the dance early. With the rehearsal mode 1-2 times a week for one hour, you will have time to put on and learn the dance, film yourself on video and work on your mistakes.
It's a good idea to start with any pair dance (in a regular dance group), this will allow you to master the principles of pair movement and teach you simple movements that you can use in your production.
Staging a wedding dance by yourself is an interesting, creative, but not an easy task. I recommend that after the end of the production, if possible, come to professional teachers for at least one lesson and show them your dance.