Making Duet Practice Work: The Project (Part II)

Posted on July 16, 2013 by


Fire Dancing Duets

photo: William Lee
Artists: GlitterGirl & The Amazing Zihni

In part one of this 2 part series, we explored the dynamics between the people co-creating a performance. This, the second part, focuses on the various aspects of the project itself.
When considering the creation of the performance, it makes sense to consider it in terms of a variety of factors, as laid out below. For the most part, this is presented in chronological order as it needs to be addressed in your practice.

  • Skill Set:
    • Of note when working with someone else is an understanding of the moves you both know and can execute with the appropriate style as related to the performance for which you are practicing. This phase of the project comes in the early part so you can begin by cultivating a practice where you build up a repertoire of moves that makes sense to perform together.
    • This can include teaching each other moves one of you knows as well as learning things neither of you know. When considering learning new moves, consider how much time it will take for you to truly be able to execute the move at a level you’d want to present during the first performance for which you are booked.
    • Understand that you may wildly overestimate how long it takes to learn the move that well, though, for the most part, I’ve seen it go the other way where we grossly underestimate the amount of time it takes to learn something.
  • Music:
    • Next up, consider the song to which you will be performing. If the performance will be one of those types of shows where it’s more loose choreography and you don’t pick the music, you can skip this phase, though it makes a lot of sense to at least work with music that is a similar tempo to what you will be performing with.
    • If, on the other hand, it is a show where you choose the music, you’ll need to figure out how tight a piece of choreography you’re looking for as well the rate of learning and how that all calculates out into your aforementioned goals and commitment This formula isn’t necessarily easy. What you think might work out in week one may not work out in week 7 and remaining in close communication and solid rapport will assist in the process no matteer what unfolds.
    • In addition to the type of choreography, you’ll need to work out the speed of music, tone of the piece, type of performance you’re interested in taking on and other details that will inform the music selection process. In general, we recommend a song with some music changes so you can have contrast in your performance to assist in generating audience interest and support.
  • Choreography:
    Choreography should be considered in several dimensions:

    • Tightness of the piece: that is, how much or the song will be choreographed? How frequently will you move? How complex will the body movements be? How complex will the poi be? What level of pace change is required to achieve that goal… As in change every 8 counts, vs every 4 vs ever count and any other possible combination
    • Tool movement: that is, what moves do you do on what count with which hand in what direction on which plane as related to each other and the audience
    • Body movement: including footwork, positioning of torso, hands, arms, face and other aspects like jumps and kicks as independent elements not necessarily related to the prop movements
    • Blocking: where you are located on the stage relative to the audience and each other and the general movements across the stage area throughout the performance
  • Costuming: the look, fabric, color, mood, story line and other associated aspects of the character of the performance as conveyed through the costume itself. This includes makeup and should include props as an extension of the setting for the costumes.
  • Drilling & Video Review: this is the place where it all happens. set a goal for what you want to accomplish at the beginning of each rehearsal. Agree on the goal and check in through out. It could be 5 run throughs, it could be drilling one section 20 times. Whatever it is, work toward the goals each rehearsal to achieve the larger goal of creating and performing your piece.

Written by Temple of Poi founder and visionary, GlitterGirl, who has been a full time flow arts coach and instructor since 2002. If you are looking for help setting your rate or to step up your skills as a student, performer or instructor using personalized coaching with GlitterGirl, email her directly (GlitterGirl <at> TempleOfPoi <daught> com).