There are many pitfalls we as dancers may encounter when we are choreographing, and I’ve battled every single one of them. Here are my top three, how to avoid them and what to do instead!
Mistake 1. Choosing a piece of music that doesn’t suit your goals.
This can be a song that does not have enough dynamic variation, is all wrong for your intended audience, or is not in the style that is best suited for your movement strengths.
Instead, listen through prospective musical choices with the end goal in mind. It isn’t enough that you just love to listen to the piece. Will this song give you enough material to choreograph to, suit your intended audience and performance space and play to your strengths? If the answer to any of these is no, I suggest you keep looking!
Mistake 2. Not letting the music be your guide.
This is, in my opinion, the biggest faux pas of the choreography world. When you focus too much on forging ahead with a movement choice or choreographic idea and don’t allow the music to guide the timing and quality of how you perform it, you can find yourself floating untethered with nothing to connect you or your audience to the music supporting your dance.
Instead always let the music be your guide. Whether you choose to dance to the rhythm, melody, counter-melody or something else you hear within your piece, use that as the starting place for your movements and your dance will always feel more authentic.
Mistake 3. Letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.
This one has tripped me up more times than I care to admit. I create a bit of choreography that I’m not crazy about and I end up beating my head against a wall repeatedly to try to make it better. I will often get caught up on one 16-count phrase, totally stalling out my choreographic process for days or even weeks on end.
Instead, just write down what you have, use it for now and move on! Inspiration ebbs and flows and something that completely stumps us today may be easily danced to tomorrow. Keep moving forward, even with the imperfections, and you will find yourself happily inspired to continue creating.
Have you encountered any of these issues in your choreography process? How did you overcome them?
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