Choreograph For the Dancer You Are or the Dancer You Want to Be?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by suburbaknght, Dec 29, 2012.

  1. suburbaknght

    suburbaknght Well-Known Member

    When you create your choreography do you try and create a routine that best showcases what you can do or do you try and create a routine above your skill level that you grow into?
  2. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    This is an awesome question...

    When my partner and I started thru syllabus, we asked our coaches many times 'why do we need to dance this figure' and at other times 'why are we NOT dancing THAT figure'. As neophytes, we assumed that either teachers gave us material to 'challenge' us or 'advance our abilities', or that they gave us figures we looked good in to help us win. At the time, we thought that any time a teacher pulled a piece of choreography from us we had either not 'met the challenge' or failed.

    As we 'came into our own' we became more forgiving about how we felt about losing some bit of movement etc, and would come to our coaches with feedback about how we FELT when doing our choreography. We realized that movement has to develop and become one's own to truly look and feel good (altho we are always told that feeling good is not always looking good), but we want to dance in a way that feels most real to us.
  3. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    It probably depends on how comfortable you are taking the time to get good at the choreography knowing that along the way you may struggle and not be able to compete in that routine or place as well as you'd like, if the routine is too difficult.
  4. ajiboyet

    ajiboyet Well-Known Member

    This is a very deep question; I think it depends on a few things, one of which is WHAT you're choreographing for.

    If you're going into a competition, you definitely want to put your best foot forward, no matter what level you're dancing at. So even while you're trying attract the judges and get a callback, you better look good doing whatever you're doing. It's better to do a properly executed single alemana than try to be Joanna Leunis and fall in your multiple spins.

    If you're performing in front of an audience that isn't familiar with technique and things, then you can take a couple of risks with moves that you can execute to about a 60% level. They wouldn't know the difference. So you can probably use that opportunity to challenge yourself with more difficult choreography, knowing you don't have as much to lose as you'd have in a competition.
    debmc likes this.
  5. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    What the others said, but I'll add that it also depends on how much time you have. I have a show on Monday, and while I'd like some flashier choreography that challenges us a bit, there simply wasn't time to put it together and master it. So, we are adding some stuff but it's all relatively easy for us. If you're starting now for a comp in March, you have more time to rise to the challenge.

    On the other hand, I've seen couples get choreo that was beyond them and they never rose to it so it never looked good. Perhaps partly because they weren't able to take regular lessons, and I think that's important if you're going to dance a routine that stretches your current abilities.
    debmc likes this.
  6. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    if it is a competitive routine, I am happy to have choreo I have to improve upon provided it is not something that is just never going to look good on me...but, having said that,had I not been exposed to a lot of open choreo that does and does not work well for me over long enough time, I would have no capacity to differentiate...I think there is wisdom in selecting choreo, working on it, then discerning whether what is not working well needs more work/time or is simply not something that is right for a particular dancer and their strengths and weaknesses before putting it on a competitive floor
    debmc likes this.
  7. Leon Theou

    Leon Theou Active Member

    Find the middle ground between the dancer you are, and the dancer you will become, which is not always the same thing as the dancer you want to be. I have seen a lot of couples who dance a routine, and it looks like they are performing someone else's choreography. You have to dance things that look good on you and things that you can sell. I love Mayo Alanen's dancing, and I wish I could dance like him, however he is very tall and very slender. I am neither of those things, so even if I were on his level ability-wise, choreography that suits him will not look good when done by someone who is 5'10" and 180 lbs. Similarly, I know couples who have choreography that, while impressive, is beyond their ability to sell. It's like the 6 year-old boy who decides to copy his father and put shaving cream on and drag a razor across his face or the little girl who puts on mommy's dresses and heels. Sure they might do it all correctly, but it does not look fitting.
    Gorme, Mr 4 styles, dlliba10 and 2 others like this.
  8. suburbaknght

    suburbaknght Well-Known Member

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You've all given me a lot to think about.
  9. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    I was googling something else and came across this advice from David Hamilton: http://dancesportucr.com/resources/judge_soapbox_David-Hamilton.pdf

    As relevant to this thread:

    Choreography:
    I don't like to see inexperienced couples trying to handle choreography that is meant for a
    master dancer, and I think a lot of that is the fault of the coach. The couple may have the
    potential to do the material with a higher degree of difficulty, but, as coaches, we have to set up
    the building blocks for these people first. I see couples trying to execute complex choreography
    that they are not equipped or trained enough for, and it looks offensive to me. As a judge, you
    get a bad taste in your mouth about the couple, and it's going to be a long road for them to
    overcome a judge’s initial impression.

    Couples need to have choreography that is appropriate for their level of expertise, just like we
    do in Pro-Am. The purpose is not to withhold or cheat the professionals out of anything, it’s to
    better develop them.
    ajiboyet and dlliba10 like this.
  10. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    When doing comp choreography, you sometimes face the limitation of the heats not being very long, so you can't afford to put in something that is shaky. It depends on the dance. For example, in bolero, due to the slow tempo, you often only have enough time to dance two or three figures. So you can't afford to put in something that you are still learning.
  11. jiwinco

    jiwinco Member

    Thank you for this! This answers a question I had some time ago about my own choreography. I don't execute pieces if it well, and I think that for competitions those pieces should be removed until I can execute them correctly.
    ajiboyet and twnkltoz like this.
  12. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    The question that I always answer is why I am doing the choreography and what resources I have to devote to it. It could be for a competition, for a demo, to give myself experience, to give someone experience who hasn't had much, I may have 1 hr once a week for 6 weeks, or 3 hrs a week for 3 months.... Only then I could answer the subject of the thread...
  13. OreganO

    OreganO Member

    My thoughts on this really depend on the purpose of the dance.

    For competition, our purpose is to demonstrate our skill and entertain. As cornutt mentioned, there is such a limited time in comps to be seen (the word at the moment is about 7.5 seconds per couple) so my partner and I choreograph competitive routines to show us at our best.

    However, for showcases, I really enjoy choreographing a routine that is a combination of things that my partner and I do well and newer, challenging material. Our show dances are for college students so there is significantly less pressure to achieve perfection; the purpose of these dances is simply to entertain.

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