Generating ideas for a choreography or performance is hard in the best of times.
This can be even harder when you are asked to dance in a themed show or given a concept to work with. It might be something that you don’t necessarily jive with or you feel restricted by the direction.
It can be all-consuming, stressful or even painful creatively to get started.
Rehearsals can feel wasted or even that you don’t have the drive to start.
I’ve been in this boat MANY times & tbh sometimes my best work comes out of being commissioned. I tend to fight against it a lot but it typically forces me out of my box & to put on a different hat. But even creating choreo for myself can be tough & hard to navigate.
I’ve created a way over the years to help me get on board & reduce the stress around creating performance. It helps me hone into the end result but essentially storyboarding the entire thing from concept to creation.
So you have been asked to dance in a show. Now what?! Lets start from beginning… looking at the overall Theme of your performance.
#1: Choose Your Theme
This part might have been given to you already so now where are you going to go right? Well this is the part where you can take that idea & turn it into your creation.
Say you have been asked to play a certain character in a show. You have the rough sketch or expectation of the character, but you can turn that into something personal that you embody.
Focus on what feelings & emotions do you want to portray. Find your theme by exploring the overall tone & message of your piece. Determine what feelings & emotions you want to showcase both in yourself & your audience…what do you want you audience to feel?
This is now your chance to take these emotions & feelings and start to embody them. What & how do you want to represent your theme? Start by brainstorming what you want to represent by setting the tone & the message. Write these out so that you have a clear understanding on where to work from & to make connections. You can also cross reference or delete in this step once you start compiling ideas.
What is your inspiration? Where do you seek inspiration from typically? Are you inspired by watching other dancers, reading poetry, watching a film, nature? When starting to create your overall theme, go to where you get inspired keeping in line with your idea for your piece. Keep writing, create wordclouds, doodle. Allow yourself to connect with words and use them to keep setting the theme.
This is where you want to start to further enforce your message. What message do you want to send to the viewer? To the performance? Do you want to take the audience on a journey with you? Do you want them to experience visceral emotion? Do you want them to interact with you or silently observe? Do you want this piece to be purely authentic in its style or abstract? Do you want clear symbolism or leave it up to the audience to decide what it was about?
Having a clear direction about this message means that you will be able work from here equally clearly as you can start to draft the experiences from this place.
#5: Dive In
Get to work! Now that you have determined the overall theme & tone of your piece, it is time to dive in and start working.
Stay tuned for the next installment!
Ashley Rhianne xo