8 Approaches to Choreography

Posted on January 19, 2015 by

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8 Types of Choreography

Artist: Zihni
Photo: Dalton Chan

As with any practice, choreographing a work consists of degrees of granularity, in this case where the movements are matched to the music with increasing degree of precision as the choreography becomes more refined. This encompasses a wide range of experiences and approaches to the creation process.

This article endeavors to present some commonly utilized concepts while analyzing the benefits and disadvantages of each. This is not intended as “the complete list” so to speak, but rather an overview of a variety of approaches to help give choreographers some ideas to consider when working on their next creation.

 

 

 

 

  • No choreography, also known as freestyle.
    • Benefits
      • nothing to learn
      • nothing to hold you back
      • no cues to miss.
    • Drawbacks
      • nothing on which to rely
      • might not include moves you want to do
      • might get stuck trying to get into and out of desired moves
      • may feel repetitive
  • Know the key music cues.
    • Benefits
      • easy to feel
      • great for people deeply connected to the music
      • nothing to learn other than the cues in the music
      • no complicated choreography
      • nothing to hold you back
      • nothing to miss but something to shoot for which provides a small amount of structure as support for performing
    • Drawbacks
      • not a lot of structure
      • requires on the fly creativity
      • can get confusing trying to hit a cue at a song when you’re “waiting for it”
      • not ideal for people who don’t connect to the music
      • difficult for people who struggle to remember the sequence of a song
  • Know the major music cues and have planned movements at these points only.
    • Benefits
      • can powerfully perform in the most powerful parts of the music
      • can harness the power of sound visually
      • not too much choreography to get tripped up
    • Drawbacks
      • maybe not enough choreography to provide the needed structure
      • requires a good sense of timing to know the musical cues well enough
      • works great for people who feel the music and challenging for those who can’t
  • Know the overall arc of the journey the song presents and have a general set of movements that happen within that flow
    • Benefits
      • flexible
      • works with multiple types of music
      • isn’t necessarily dependent on a particular song which works well if things go wrong
    • Drawbacks
      • not as powerful as more specific choreography
      • can be challenging to recover if you forget your place, depending on the music and adeptness of the artist
      • not the same every time
      • can be more difficult for video editing if you want a continuous look
  • 8 Styles of Choreography

    Artists: Zihni & GlitterGirl
    Photo: Don Albonico

    Choreograph particular sections with each action matching a note or series of notes

    • Benefits
      • Structure on which to rely
      • can design and present powerful and intentional work more easily
    • Drawbacks
      • difficult to nail perfectly
      • longer time to learn
      • more possible things to go wrong
  • Have every movement in the song and every note in the song matched together to create the tightest mesh between the two
    • Benefits
      • Structure on which to rely
      • can design and present powerful and intentional work more easily
    • Drawbacks
      • difficult to nail perfectly
      • longer time to learn
      • can be challenging to recover because it’s so specific
      • more possible things to go wrong
  • When working with a partner/partners, have a cue person and/or move and as these happen, the pair or group move into the designated pattern/combination/section.
    • Benefits
      • Don’t need a lot of advanced planning
      • easy structure
      • one person is in charge
    • Drawbacks
      • call person needs to be strong and follower needs to be a good follower
      • not very specific choreography
      • often not as powerfully matched to the music as a result
  • Call/response improve with familiar partners
    • Benefits
      • Don’t need a lot of advanced planning
      • easy structure
      • no leader
      • no pressure
    • Drawbacks
      • can look and feel disorganized
      • difficult to make look clean
      • challenging to make it look like you nailed it

If you’re looking for support in creating a new choreographed piece, consider our upcoming 2015 Spring Choreography Boot Camp, a 10 week series that will help you understand how to create a piece while you actually complete one over the 10 weeks, all while working on character development to bring your performance to the next level. And if you’re looking to gain more business skill so you have paid opportunities to perform such choreography, join our free 5 days, 5 tips 2015 Business Ignition email-based self-study mini-class.

Need coaching? Contact GlitterGirl directly or subscribe to our newsletter for mailbox delivery of this and other articles written by Temple of Poi founder and visionary, GlitterGirl, who has been a full time flow arts coach and instructor since 2002. If you seek business training or guidance associated with creating a safe performance, obtaining a permit in San Francisco or other personalized coaching, contact GlitterGirl directly for a free consultation (GlitterGirl <that pretty little ‘at’ symbol> TempleOfPoi <daaaaaaaught> com).