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 Post subject: Choreography
PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2001 12:40 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 10, 2001 11:01 pm
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Location: St. Peters, MO USA
Hi gang. i'm really interested in choreography, but my problem is i'm not sure about how to learn about the different aspects of it. can anyone suggest a book i can read, or are there classes i should take?<BR>thanks.<BR>kim<P>------------------<BR>Great Dancers are not great dancers because of their technique: they are great dancers because fo their passion -- Martha Graham<BR>

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 Post subject: Re: Choreography
PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2001 1:05 pm 
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There are certainly some books about choreography....I have seen several of them at Barnes and Noble book store. <P>There are a number of aspects that you need to be aware of. First of all of course you need to have knowledge about the genre (what type of dance) you wish to choreograph for - or at least the type of dance you wish to start out choreographing for. <P>You also need a knowledge of music. And the dancer's body - what is physically possible. And I would also add what is comfortable. One thing I read over and over from dancers who danced for Balanchine was that they felt "comfortable" with his choreography - it felt good to them. That doesn't mean it was easy - but that it fitted them like a finely designed dress.<P>Sometimes if you are choreographing for a specific space - then you need a knowledge of that space - the size, the entrances, the layout. <P>And there needs to be a concept behind the choreography - is it to express the music? a mood? a story? What kind of feel do you want for it - should it look as if it is almost improvised at the time of the dance - or a more formal creation? <P>Ultimately, in my opinion, choreography is learnt by doing - reading and study can certainly help - but in the end one has to "do". Some choreographers start from different places - some see a dancer who turns them on, some a piece of music, and some just have an idea and find the music and dancer afterward. Many different ways to create.<P>For me personally, the music always came first. Well, I have to qualify that, if I was choreographing for my students then of course it depended on their technnical level - the object of my creation was to test them, to further their learning, but also to have them enjoy the experience and, assuming they worked hard on it, they would in the end "look good" doing my work.<P>But when I choreographed for my best student and myself, where my creative horizons were much larger - then the music was always the basis for creation. I just "listened" to the music.<P>I hope this was what you wanted to know, Dawn. What are you thinking of doing?<P><p>[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited June 22, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: Choreography
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2001 3:14 am 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
What Basheva says is all very true and there are many constraints to choroeography - ability of dancers, time, space ete.<P>I found that watching lots of different types of dance helped me with choroeography skills - seeing what I felt worked and didn't work, what styles and types of steps I liked. Don't be afraid to choreograph and of things not looking the way you planned it in your head - you can always change things. Always follow your instincts and go from there.


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 Post subject: Re: Choreography
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2001 6:33 am 
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Location: Basking Ridge, New Jersey, USA
One of my favorite books about choreography is: The Art of Making Dances by Doris Humphrey. This explores choreography from an early modern dance perspective, but I found it extremely valuable, even for a "bunhead." I still incorporate a lot of Humphrey's ideas into my pre-ballet classes.<P>One of the fascinating things about choreography is the way a dance takes on a life of its own. You have a concept, you begin to create, and at some point, the dance develops its own personality. It may be what you envisioned at the outset, it may be totally different (sometimes brilliantly so, sometimes disastrously so...). The creative process is truly amazing. <P>Hope you enjoy your first explorations, Kim Dawn. If you let us know more about your particular situation, we may have some additional suggestions for you.


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 Post subject: Re: Choreography
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2001 9:48 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
I agree with what both Joanne and Nancy said....."time" is also another element to be considered. I always opt for slightly shorter.<P>When someone would come over to me and say "I really liked your work - but wished it was a bit longer" ....that was ever so much better than "it's a bit too long!!"<BR>So that is something to consider also. And many times the choreographer will have an exact amount of time in a program. But if given a choice - I don't want my work to be overdrawn.<P>I used to do a yearly "students choreographer workshop" in which my students would choreograph either for themselves or others for a recital. I would vett the work, but otherwise it was their own. I had one teenager (with a rather insistant mother) who refused to shorten her work - which was entirely too long. I allowed her to go forward with it, and midway through she herself began to agree that it was too long. It was a real learning experience for her.<P>And, I have found that not only does choreography take on a creative life of its own, as Nancy says, but so also does writing and painting. It's a very amazing process.


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 Post subject: Re: Choreography
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2001 1:02 pm 
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Oh time in that sense - yes that it is a good thing to consider. I actually meant time as in how long you have to rehearse the piece LOL. But both time factors are important ones to consider.


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 Post subject: Re: Choreography
PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2001 5:36 pm 
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Location: St. Peters, MO USA
Thanks for all your wonderful advice. i really appreciate it. i apologize for not responding earlier, but i was out of town over the weekend. Besheva, you asked what was i thinking of doing. well, sometimes i'll be listening to clasical music, and a song will come on. i then get this thought of i can do something with this. Balachine said he wanted people to hear the dance and see the music. i totally understand that. that's what i want to do. when i hear the music, my dancer in my head starts dancing. my teacher told me to write down what i see, and put it together. my problem is i have only been dancing for 2 years, so i feel that i'm not yet qualified to put together dances, since i'm not yet on pointe.( but hopefully, i will be this fall). i feel that i am rather limited in my knowledge of ballet. my teacher said that a dance doesnt' need to be complicated to be beautiful. maybe my own insecurities are limiting me.<P> i have an idea for a dance but i only have pieces of it. i need to put the pieces together. it would be in a christmas play, and i thought instead of having a spotlight be the Star of Bethleham, why not use a person, who would be dressed in a silver costume dance down the aisle, meet a dancer, on the stage, dressed up as an angel, then have 3 more stars, and 3 more angels join the dance. at the end of the dance, the main star-dancer would climb a few stairs to the top of the manger. i can see it in my head, but getting it down on paper, or in my feet is another problem all on its own. Does that make sense? i think this is my biggest obstical - getting the dance on paper. thanks.<BR>kim

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 Post subject: Re: Choreography
PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2001 6:09 pm 
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Kim - your idea sounds intriguing - and why not? Don't be afraid of it. I would suggest - perhaps - that you might want to start first with a single dance.<P>The way I used to do it (when I had the leisure) was to just put myself in an empty room with the music and just MOVE. Pretty soon certain movements and the music "fit" together. Have a notebook handy and write that down. <P>Then another piece will "fit" - and so on. There will be parts that don't seem to come together and you need to work on sewing the pieces that fit together. <P>You also have to consider the stage upon which it will be done - the size. And you want your dance to cover most areas of the stage - rather than stay in one place - at least that's the theory - LOL. And, of course you have to consider the technical level of the dancers - you want them to look good.<P>Find music you just LOVE - because you are going to be listening to it hundreds of times. <P>Don't be afraid to try it.....just find the music and MOVE. And you teacher is right - it doesn't have to be complicated to be wonderful. And, make it slightly "too short" rather than slightly "too long". Always better that way, in my opinion.


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 Post subject: Re: Choreography
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2001 5:10 am 
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Location: Basking Ridge, New Jersey, USA
Kim Dawn, you already have the idea for an entire ballet there -- that's great! Some choreographers do start with the concept.<P>I agree with Basheva. Why don't you start with one small part, either of that Christmas idea, or one completely different, and just start. Don't worry about not being on pointe. Many pieces are done without pointe shoes. Don't worry about not knowing how to write it down. You'll develop your own shorthand, your own way of taking notes, that will serve as a reminder to you of what you want, once you get to rehearsal. There may be the possibility of videotaping as you go, if the written notes don't work.<P>I do what Basheva did, in terms of finding an empty room, and being in there with the music, and just moving. Sometimes I just walk. I pace and pace to the music, and then steps start happening. Craft enters later, with figuring out ways to fill in holes, etc.<P>If you get started soon, you can do it without any pressure (such as a deadline for the Christmas piece), and just explore. Your teacher sounds very supportive, so if you go to her/him with the work you have done, I'm sure you'll get the feedback you need. Don't have fear; have fun!


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 Post subject: Re: Choreography
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2001 7:00 am 
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you guys are the greatest. thanks so much for the support and advice. i'm going to do what you said tonight. <BR>kim <BR><P>------------------<BR>Great Dancers are not great dancers because of their technique: they are great dancers because fo their passion -- Martha Graham<BR>

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 Post subject: Re: Choreography
PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2001 11:22 am 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Good luck with it Kim and enjoy. Choreography should be the most enjoyable and rewarding process starting with those intitial ideas and gradually pieces then together into an end product. I'm sure it will be great.


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