Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Organic Choreography

I'm a huge fan of doing what comes naturally.  My body responds in different ways to different music.  I continue studying dance so I have a vocabulary and technique to refine my natural response to music, but it always comes down to what feels right.  Whenever I start a choreography project for myself, I put on a piece of music and see how I move to it.  I don't give myself limitations like "the bra has to be gone by this point" or "I have to do at least three lame pirouettes."  I just do what comes naturally.  Then I'll put on the song while I'm in the shower.  (Some people sing; I dance in the shower.)  No worries about shoes or clothing limitations.  It's all about how I can use my body organically to express the song.  Wonderful things come out in the home "laboratory" of organic dancing, things that get set as specific choreography bits.  After I've "felt" the music as many times as I need to have loose choreography, I look at what elements I can add or change to better entertain the audience.  With my own pieces, I don't usually write the choreography down; I rely on muscle memory.  Since it was created organically, it works well for me.  It helps to rehearse the hell out of a piece so the muscles have something to remember.

When I work privately with a student, I start by having them move to their music naturally.  Sometimes there's a little more technique involved, like covering some basic fan dancing moves before starting the organic movement.  I ask how they want to move, what are their ideas for the piece, what they want to show the audience.  Sometimes I tweak what they have, sometimes I work out specific moves based on the information they provide.  The important thing is how their bodies respond to the music.  It's easier for them to remember the choreography, and it doesn't come off as something pasted onto their numbers.  Sometimes they video the choreography we work out together, sometimes they write it down.  By using organic choreography as much as possible, there's room for more character stuff, audience connection, special flourishes to come out of the natural, comfortable moves.

I'm something of a choreography hippie, I guess.

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