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 Post subject: How To Become a Professional Classical Choreographer
PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2005 10:13 am 
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How does one become a classical choreographer without ever having danced in a major (or minor) ballet company or maybe not at all? When the directors and choreographers dominating American ballet were all former dancers. But does being a dancer qualify someone to sit at the artistic helm of a major ballet company?

I can say that I have tremendous respect for one former artistic director, Baryshnikov, for openly admitting that he had no talent for choreography. It is a rare bread of artist who can fluently (and quickly) create world class choreography; Balanchine being a principal example.

How does one get their "break" in the new world of corporate ballet where the "Bushist" philosophy of "create opportunities for your friends at the cost of the integrity and longevity of the art" has closed the doors to emerging young choreographers. Two words for you "job security".
This process has brought ballet to arguably it's lowest level in history. The clever (not) idea of auctioning off dancers (whatever this really means) to raise funding demonstrates the fact that classical ballet has one foot in the grave. Another word "exploitism".


Young classical choreographers do exist, but are unable to develop their craft because of the above issues. At the same time the ballet world has expressed that there is a shortage of "classical choreographers"

I don't have a profound answer for those of you who wish to become choreographers I can only share my experience. I began in a small junior college dance dept. I began studying ballet at age 21 from scratch and new from the beginning that I wanted to be a choreographer and not a dancer.
To make a very long story short, I never danced professionally, I never studied choreography, but I am currently living in Moscow, Russia and working as a choreographer at the Moscow State Choreographic Academy of the Bolshoi Theater and am the only American do so in it's history. I would love to discuss this topic.

From the source - E.C.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2005 12:21 am 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: SF Bay Area
Hello, moderators, should this topic be moved to the Studio forum?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2005 3:04 am 
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Location: Canada
Yes, I think this would attract more attention in studio and will move it...

Kate


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2006 3:31 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 27, 2006 2:36 pm
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xoreographer,

I am almost in the similiar situation as you. I want to be a choreographer, but there are no opportunities for me to refine my craft. I am even willing to choreograph for free, or on anyone of any age. I love to create movement and would wish to see the movement come alive.

Does one have to study choreography to be a choreographer? Can choreography be studied? Well, genius like Petipa, Fokine, Nijinsky, Nijinska, Balanchine, Ashton and McMillan definitely didn't have any degree in choreography up their sleeve. But, in this 21st Century, is a piece of paper qualification going to determine everything?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2006 4:06 pm 
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Joined: Sun Dec 12, 1999 12:01 am
Posts: 3663
Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
vera.declore wrote:
Does one have to study choreography to be a choreographer?


Welcome to the criticaldance forum, vera.declore.

No one can teach art, but all art requires technique.

...And technique can certainly be taught.

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Jeffrey E. Salzberg,
Dance Lighting Design
http://www.jeffsalzberg.com


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 4:06 am 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
It is the norm that most classical choreographers were previously professional dancers. They have the advantage in that they have contacts and know how the system works.

As Salzberg says technique of choreography can certainly be taught and is at many leading dance colleges and universities. A choreographer also has to have an understanding of what has gone before to help evolve new choreography.

I don't feel though that the role of choreographer should exclusively be given to ex professional dancers. As has been stated not all dancers can choreograph and I'm sure that not all choreographers were the greatest dancers. Obviously one has to have a thorough knowledge of dance technique and performance quality to be a choreographer, but they don't necessarily have to be able to perform their own work to the same standard that the dancers they are working with can, they really need to be able to impart their ideas and choreography in a fluent manner to ensure the dancers get the ideas behind the piece and can perform it to the standard and style that the choreographer is looking for.

I think it is probably easier for a non-professional dancer to get choroegraphy work in the field of contemporary/modern dance than it is in ballet but it is still probably quite a challenge.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 4:15 am 
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Location: The Bronx is up; the Battery's down
Joanne wrote:
As has been stated not all dancers can choreograph


The three biggest myths in dance:
  1. All dancers can teach
  2. All dancers can choreograph
  3. All choreographers can be artistic directors

When dancers with no training in composition begin to choreograph, they usually make dances that are fun to dance but may not be interesting to watch.

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http://www.jeffsalzberg.com


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 6:42 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 27, 2006 2:36 pm
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Quote:
When dancers with no training in composition begin to choreograph, they usually make dances that are fun to dance but may not be interesting to watch.


and i think some compositions maybe a reminiscient of other choreographers' work, or repertoire.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2006 11:12 am 
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Location: Seattle, WA. USA
This is a complex topic. Many, many people who'd like to create ballets/dances for companies find they hit the glass ceiling and there's little way around it. There are many reasons for the glass ceiling. One is ADs often have little time to got out and see the work of choreographers, as much as they'd like to. Another is budget. Another is risk. Another is box office. I know it does seem like the same people get virtually all of the opportunties. That's partly they are or have become a "known quantity."

And like admissions to colleges or university, the pool of talented applicants is nearly always greater than the openings available. So of the choreographers out there that an AD might want to pick from, they have to be selective and choose those that fit their own artistic needs and, yes, business goals.

I might suggest making dances for students and/or friends and colleagues as a way of finding "voice" to one's artistic expression.

Another suggestion might be to ask around. The number one reason why people don't give to charities is that they are not asked. I'm thinking, why not take this and turn it around and say to ourselves, "I'll start asking around." Send out DVDs/videos of your work, asking for choreographric consideration.

There's LOTS of talent out there and it's not true that ballet lacks good choreographers but sometimes these folk are making art that's perhaps not getting the exposure and marketing they might otherwise deserve.

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Dean Speer
ballet@u.washington.edu


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