Choreography Creation: Developing Movement Through Improvisation

I’m blogging along as I work on a choreography to “Andah Aleik” for my duo, io. Feel free to leave a comment with your process–I’m curious to know how people approach choreography. I’m going to take it step by step! Except sometimes I don’t always follow these steps. Whatevs. I hope it will be useful to you as you work on your own choreographies…or I hope you find it vaguely amusing. 🙂

Up until now, everything I’ve done has been pretty procedural and can be completed in less than an hour (except listening to the song 100 times). Now I start the actual process of developing movement…which is why I’ve been putting this post off. It’s hard. 😀

TL;DR: Take one section of a song and put it on repeat. Improvise along your floor map X times in a row–I do 5 times, which is an arbitrary number that seems to work for me. Review your video and pull out what you like. Working in shorter sections is nice because you can notice what you like and start developing it right away, as opposed to doing the whole song and then trying to remember what the thing was that you liked and when it happened.

Improvisation

Choreography is not the act of writing down your improvisation but improv can be used to get a sense of movement, shape, etc. Sometimes something will come out that is so great it needs little to no adjustment but you’ll probably have to polish out your improv (especially transitions).

I’m reluctant to share the videos because the drafts are so rough. I’m working around this by speeding up one of them so you have less time to assess what I’m doing. 😉

Notes:

  • I’m pretty committed to that leg drag/infinity thing at the beginning
  • I like the leg up thing, think it needs a lil’ tap
  • Want to really emphasize the weight shifts–make these bigger (by the fourth run through this started happening naturally). The shifting back and forth goes with the emotional sentiment/story associated with this section–this is the “U mad?/the future we could share” section so a sense of hesitation is good.
  • Maybe incorporate an upper body twist to the back into the arm swoopies (keep arm swoopies)
  • I like where I’m going with the little step sequence into infinities on a turn (hard to see super fast–trust me, it’s there)–standardize
  • There’s sort of an accidental arabesque turn sequence I like in take three that I should standardize

Do this for every section. This particular project is a little challenging because it’s a duet choreography with a lot of interaction–the section I’m showing was my most successful improv and it’s the one section where I have a little solo. The rest of the sections I’m like “uhhh what’s she doing? should I do my part or her part? should we be doing identical things? HALP”

Going through the sections this way helped me notice where certain motifs were repeating. You could also figure that out during the listening and song mapping process, but it wasn’t until I took it section by section that I really felt where the repetitions were happening. Slowly–very slowly–the pieces are coming together.

You can see that there are some gaps in my improv and there are even bigger gaps in the other sections I’m not showing. This is where “theoretical choreography” comes in, which is my next step. That’s hard work too, though, so I’m saving it for another post. 😀

BTW–yes–I do intend to compare the rough drafts to the final product but will have to do that all at the end of this series! 🙂

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