Foundation. We all know it, how important it is to have a strong foundation when building a house, getting married, or learning to ski.
When you ski for the very first time, do you go to the black diamond trails and say “how hard can this be?” or “everyone else is doing it!” No! Because with the best of luck you’d end up in the trees, worst of luck you’d ski right off a cliff because you didn’t have the basics under your belt!
I see this all the time. A new choreographer rushes out to buy all the tools “everyone is using” and immediately wants to start creating a dance with the Performance Director. Now, I love the Performance Director. It is like the conductor of an orchestra bringing all the pieces together, but…. no matter how great the conductor is, if no one has learned to play the drums, flute, or violin, it’s going to be just like elementary school band where Jimmy just couldn’t keep the beat and Robin smacked her flute against Billy because she couldn’t get it to work!
I have seen a few new choreographers take to the tools like a duck to water and put together something good – but dance is sooo much more than the tools. It is art, it is expression, it is creativity. This comes from within, this comes from time and building a foundation, getting to know your animations, listening to music, and starting with the basics.
In my opinion, to create the best performances you need a strong foundation. To gain a strong foundation you need to focus on the choreography FIRST, and focus on learning one tool at a time until you’ve mastered it.
TOOL 1: SPOT ON SMOOTH DANCER (animation HUD)
Start here. Collect animations, work on choreography. Create a DANCE. You CAN perform with only a Smooth Dancer HUD and a stay pad! Some of my favorite dances recently created only use 1 or 2 moves! That’s it! Learn to record sequences, smooth out your transitions. Smooth Dancer isn’t the only animation HUD, but it’s my favorite. Twenty animations on a page, clean interface, ability to record sequences, and create timed and untimed sequences on the same notecard.
TOOL 2: MOVER SYSTEM
You’re comfortable with beginning choreography, you have animations, you know how to select ones that fit to the music and are from a variety of makers, you’re still working on smooth transitions but not doing too bad. You’re comfortable with the Smooth Dancer HUD. NOW move onto a mover system.
There are several different ones available. Choreography Designer is my preferred mover system for what I create now, BUT IT IS NOT THE ONLY ONE. There is no need to get lost in waypoints, create a bazillion routes and rotations for your dancers. Let your animations do most of the movement, and if needed, and a move or two using one of the mover systems available to get started.
What ones? Klark Harvy offers classes on the DBC (dance ball controller), a free tool with an easy interface. This is the easiest one to start with. Club Image uses the SZI mover system, for example. When you’re ready – learn the Spot On Choreography Design system but START SIMPLE! You usually don’t need more than a few waypoints when you’re starting! More than once I’ve heard muffled screams because a new choreographer jumped into the choreography designer system right out of the gate with complex ideas and were sobbing under a pile of triangles.
TOOL 3: PERFORMANCE DIRECTOR
IF you choose to, and you’re comfortable with Smooth Dancer, choreography, creating sequences and the Choreography Design System THEN add the Performance Director to your tool library! To use it effectively you truly must understand the first two tools!
I teach all three, I love all three, but it was an evolution as I built my foundation. As Alice said, start from the beginning and keep going. Put one foot in front of the other, build a strong foundation and focus on the joy, art, and creativity of a dance rather than the tools or the “extra” stuff. Without choreography, there is no dance. Begin there.
I am in no way an expert, “Master Choreographer”, or any of that. (a term I detest and personally don’t believe in). We are all learning, evolving, exploring new things. Someone can create amazing dances, but be completely unfamiliar in how to choreograph a powerful dance for all men. There are few hard and fast “rules” in my eyes when it comes to dance in SL, but there are two. 1. NEVER EVER EVER EVER buy transfer only animations. Copy, copy, copy versions – ALWAYS – when you can. 2. Build a strong foundation, learn slowly, enjoy the ride.
Follow this, and dance in SL may be one of the most amazing adventures you experience.
I leave you with two videos for today, and a quote:
“Great dancers are not great because of their technique. They are great because of their passion.”
“One foot in front of the other
Take one step then take another
Keep on walkin’, we’re headed in the right direction
Puttin’ one foot in front of the other
Little by little gets a whole lot further
Hittin’ our stride, one foot in front of the other
We’re takin’ it nice and slow
Safe and sound, covering ground
Steady as she goes”
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