So, do you fancy yourself as a bit of a choreographer? A future dance teacher? Or, are you thinking about entering Main St Funk’s Choreography Challenge but you’re not sure where to start? Here are some hints and tips from your dance teachers at Main St Funk to making up a dance. We encourage you all to give it a go! Dancing and creating routines is so much fun and a great outlet for energy and expression.
FIRST, FIND A SONG.
- Start by simply listening to music. Put your iPod or Spotify playlist on shuffle and find something that makes you want to move and groove and leaves you feeling inspired.
- Check it is the right tempo for you and that it isn’t too fast or too slow. Can you hear the beat? Can you count, in time to the music, to the magic dancing number of 8? Can you clap the rhythm? If you can do those things, you have found a song with a speed that you can manage. Another good test is skipping to the music! If you can’t skip in time with the beat, it is either too fast or too slow!
- Make sure your song is appropriate. Ask a grown-up to have a listen and to google the lyrics. Swear words, dark themes or adult connations are not appropriate for a children’s dance performance.
PICK A CHARACTER OR THEME
- Sometimes having a character to portray will help you to create new movements for your dance. For example, if your character is a Bunny Rabbit, think about ways you can tell your audience that you are a bunny rabbit. You might show off your floppy ears, wriggle your nose or shake your tail.
- Older dancers may have more subtle ways of expressing their characters through facial expressions, stance and stage presence.
- Having a storyline to follow will help keep your movements logical and relevant to your character or theme.
- Start by giving your dance a Beginning, Middle and End, just like in a storybook. It helps to write these ideas down for you to refer to later.
- You might stray from your original ideas once you start creating and that’s ok too! Dance is an art form and it will be interpreted by the audience in many different ways.
- Listen to the words of the song. They can prompt your movements. Acting out the words in your song can help to enhance your storytelling.
- The best way to make up a dance is to simply, dance!! Put your song on and let loose with no rules or restrictions. Do this a few times and you will find a pattern. You may repeat a certain move or step to a particular section of the song each time.
- A good idea is to film yourself dancing. Then you can watch yourself and pick out bits of movement that you think look good and scrap the bits that don’t.
- Now start piecing your movements together. Remembering to stick to the beat and rhythm that you found earlier and to count to the magic dancing number of 8.
- Remember that your dance won’t come together overnight, it takes time and patience to make up a dance. At Main St Funk we spend an entire term (about 10 weeks) and sometimes even longer, preparing our routines for the stage.
- Sometimes it helps to lie down, put your headphones in and close your eyes while listening to your song.
- Imagine what you would like your dance to look like.
- Visualise yourself performing to your song and then jump up and make those awesome dance steps you dreamt up a reality.
WORK AS A TEAM
- If you are performing in a group, it is important that every team member has an opportunity to contribute to the creation of the dance.
- Start by each individual team member making up their own 4 counts of 8 of choreography. Then come together and teach each other your creations.
- Remember, everyone at Main St Funk is equal. No one student is the star or the boss. Listen to each other and be supportive of each other’s artistic choices.
EXPLORE THE STAGE
- Make sure your dance travels across the stage and uses the whole space. You can travel forward and back, from one side to the other, across the diagonal (from one corner to the other) or around in a circle.
- Aim to have a section of your dance in each of the four corners of the stage and in the middle.
- Dances that travel around the stage are much more interesting to watch than a dance that is just in the one spot.
- If dancing in a team, remember to change positions and use different patterns. This makes it interesting to watch and ensures every dancer gets a chance to dance in the front row.
USE YOUR LEVELS
- You don’t need to be standing on two feet for your entire dance. Don’t forget to explore floor work and jumps. Using levels creates an exciting and dynamic performance.
DO WHAT YOU KNOW AND WORK TO YOUR STRENGTHS
- You learn so many dance steps in class each week. Don’t be afraid to draw from those to add to your dance. Maybe you have a favourite step or something that you know you can execute really well! Add those into your dance. You can make them your own by adding your style, personality and character.
THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BOX
- Your choreography doesn’t have to mimic the dances you have learnt in class. Experiment with different movements. Get creative and wow the audience with something quirky or unexpected.
- With so many different dances to remember, it can be tricky to remember every step. Especially, when it is a dance that you have choreographed and there is no one else who knows the steps to remind you!
- Record your dance on a phone or device that you have access to for reminders.
- It also helps to write things down!
- Every song has repetition. For example, a verse, a chorus, a verse, another chorus, a bridge…Where there is repetition in the song, there should be repetition in your movement.
- Now that you’ve nailed your dance moves, now start practising your performance and stage presence. This means reflecting the theme or character of your dance. Is your dance-happy? or sad? How do you want the audience to feel when they watch you? Your facial expressions should match this.
- Practice looking up! The audience wants to see your face!! Many dancers have a habit of looking at their feet when they are concentrating really hard. Have trust that you have worked hard and your body remembers the movement.
- And remember, the audience doesn’t know your dance and won’t know if you’ve made a mistake unless your face tells them! Keep smiling!
- It helps to practice in front of an audience a few times. Ask someone; eg. mum or dad or a sibling or a friend to watch you do your dance. Then it won’t be so daunting when you hit the real stage.
- Your costume is so important in portraying your character or storyline to the audience. Make sure your outfit choice matches your choreography choices.
- If dancing in a team, make sure everyone is costumed.
- Wearing the same costume helps promote team spirit and unity and also helps to make your dance look clean and tidy.
- Mis-matched costumes can work too! It depends on your dance.
- Make sure you have a dress rehearsal in your costume to limit the chance of wardrobe malfunctions on stage.
FORGET YOU EVER READ THIS BLOG
There are no set rules to choreographing a dance routine. Dancing is an art form and can be expressed and explored in many different ways. This blog is just a guideline to help get you started, but your masterpiece might come together in a completely different way.
Whether you follow this guide or not, we can’t wait to see what you come up with! When it comes to art, there is no right or wrong, so get out there and be YOU!
Don’t forget to fill out the entry form if you plan on performing: Choreography Challenge Entry Form.