by Susan Angell-Gonzalez(President/CEO ShowMakers of America / Former Texas State University Strutters Director/Choreographer)
What determines a “trend” factor in today’s precision dance world?
Following current trends (and doing it well), is a solid strategy, but intense new material is a reliable way to stand out. Being original and unique is a sure way to be remembered. As a choreographer, always try exploring styles of dance that you rarely encounter (something out of the ordinary). Example: adapt a jazz style to make it a “funky jazz” or a military style to a “lyrical military” routine. Daring choices can also be an attention-getter, no matter what the style of dance is. Tumbling, impressive turn series, acts of contortion (those “wow” moments) can take a routine from average to innovative. Choreography that is “cutting edge” and innovative will be remembered but you have to make sure it is age-appropriate and not distasteful. Keep in mind that pieces of choreography that disjointedly alternate between dance and gymnastics almost never impress judges who are looking for smooth quality of movement. In addition, finding original music for your routines rather than Top 40 hits or songs heard on “So You Think You Can Dance” is another way your team will stand out. Consideration: Alternative Renditions of well-known songs are becoming very popular, AND the re-mix can be something your audience will appreciate.
Creativity and innovation can assist in your team’s climb to the top. Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try a new idea that can be a “trend-setter!” WOW your audience with the “element of surprise!” Dare to be different and experiment with a new approach to choreography that will be a “sure way” your routines will be memorable. Movement concepts for transitions, formations and unique styles of skills (yet to be seen) are ALL elements that will set your choreography apart from the rest. Take time to reinvent new skills from old ones! I’ve seen so many routines at competition that are over-choreographed. There is no need to create movement for every accent, lyric and syllable in a music piece. It’s important to leave time to breathe not just for your team, but for the audience as well. As dancers, we express ourselves with our bodies but if too much is being said movement-wise, it’s difficult for the audience to understand.
Explore artistic and creative movement while keeping strong technique as a base. It is important to keep the technique and skill level in your choreography appropriate for the level of your team. Do not attempt movements and skills that only a few dancers can master. Be realistic when you plan choreography. It is one thing to challenge your team and it is another to attempt the unachievable. It is very important to never display your team’s weaknesses (only show strengths). Each routine performed should be a highlight of what a team can do technically and as one precision unit. Think of technical training as a tool that must be utilized in order to achieve success. Have your students practice without the mirror to help them feel their performance rather than see it. Never allow your dancers to mark their dance. Teach them to use full energy every time. Remember: Plan the work, work the plan, and teach until the teaching is done! Do not be afraid to depart from traditional ideas. Become an agent of change! Step into the realm of the unexpected and be the next trend-setter. Embrace different dance techniques and “expressive” qualities of movement. Choreographers can tap into any number of diverse performance styles when they step into the realm of the unexpected. Give your goals and dreams a framework for success!
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