There is no right or wrong way to chore­o­graph. Each per­son has their own way of doing things; you just need to find what works best for you. Here are some ways to take your dance from con­cept to choreography:

For most peo­ple, the first step of chore­o­graph­ing is choos­ing the music. Not all chore­o­g­ra­phers start with music, but for me it is the eas­i­est way to start. If I were chore­o­graph­ing a dance just for the sake of danc­ing, I would choose some­thing that inspires me to move.

The style of dance would be deter­mined by how the music makes me move. If I have been given a spe­cific theme and style then I need to find some­thing that has the right lyrics to fit the theme and the right sound to fit the style. Try­ing to do hip-​hop to clas­si­cal bal­let music would be very difficult!

When choos­ing music, there are many things to consider.

  • What style of dance do you want to choreograph?

  • What style of music?

Also, you have to take a few ques­tions into con­sid­er­a­tion when you think about lyrics:

  • Do you need the dance to tell a story along­side lyrics?

  • Is it just a dance for the sake of dancing?

  • In what set­ting will the dance be performed?

  • What music is appro­pri­ate for that setting?

For me the next step is edit­ing the music to be the length I want. Usu­ally I like my dances to be between 23 min­utes long.

While lis­ten­ing to the music over and over dur­ing edit­ing, my brain cre­ates pat­terns and move­ments to deter­mine the struc­ture of the dance. I don’t have actual dance moves at this point, just knowl­edge of where the dance will begin and end, and the posi­tion changes, style/​tempo changes that I want to happen.

After writ­ing down notes about the struc­ture, I then begin to fill in the gaps. For exam­ple if I have a sec­tion of music where I know I want the dance to move from stage right to stage left in 16 counts, I will play around will move­ments until I find some­thing I’m happy with.

From there I can work on fill­ing in the next sec­tion, or pre­vi­ous sec­tion if I haven’t done it yet. Often a dance doesn’t get cre­ated from start to fin­ish. I chore­o­graph bits here and there and when I get stuck, (which always hap­pens) I leave a gap and come back to it later.

My biggest tip would be to write every­thing down, even if it’s just a ran­dom idea you have. There have been so many times when I’ve started chore­o­graph­ing, don’t write any­thing down, then by the next day I’ve com­pletely for­got­ten what I created!

Some peo­ple can cre­ate dances really fast, or even on-​the spot. For me this is not the case. Chore­o­graph­ing is a very time-​consuming task that I often find very dif­fi­cult and frus­trat­ing. But once I’ve fin­ished, it’s fun get­ting to teach it to oth­ers and cre­ate piece to per­form. It’s very reward­ing see­ing some­thing you have cre­ated being per­formed by others.

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Tips for Great Chore­og­ra­phy (Part 2)

In part one of our series on chore­og­ra­phy, we looked at a few ways to take your dance from a con­cept to actu­ally plot­ting out the move­ments needed to make it hap­pen. In this arti­cle, we’ll look at a…