IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC!
I think I’ve always chosen the music before a set idea comes into my head. I work based on “feel” a lot – when I hear a piece of music, sometimes I just “have to” create it. I like to listen to it over and over again, letting thoughts and ideas, visions come into my mind.
My favorite times are when it’s almost subconscious – feeling it, seeing the dancers in my head, flashes of the set. I listen, again and again…letting it speak to me, and sometimes…it gives me chills. That’s part of the thrill of this I think. When we create we are truly diving into the music, becoming one with it. Sharing a piece of ourselves. At least for me, even when I don’t intend to, I’m sharing a piece of myself, a glimpse of my inner self. I think for everyone it’s different, and every performance is different. Not all dances have to be super serious – and I hope they aren’t! We don’t have only one emotion – so our dances shouldn’t either I think. Recall the performances you’ve seen, the ones that stick in your mind. How did they make you feel? Yesterday I cried. I was thrilled, I felt pride and solidarity, I felt unique and powerful through an incredible dance of another, and I laughed. All in one show while sitting in the audience, different choreographers, every one bringing a piece of themselves to the stage. Even now I have chills.
Whew…ok. Back to choosing music! A song usually hits me because there’s a feeling or a message in it. My general guidelines – no rules! I’m a Scorpio, I detest rules and control (really!).
- Pick a piece of music you can listen to 762 times and not hate it. You will be listening to it that much as you create! Sometimes even just little pieces of it…over and over and over again….and over and over and over and over….
- If you are a new choreographer, I’d recommend choosing an upbeat dance music piece. You will find this style the easiest to find animations for, hooks, and changes in the music that automatically create great variations to keep your audience focused. They will also probably be somewhat familiar and will find it easier to connect to. In general, you might find it more enjoyable and confidence building to start here too.
- I tend to choose music that has changes in the tempo, the beat. If it’s all monotone, it can be very hard to choreograph, and especially hard to keep the audience from zoning out. I love the hooks, chorus’ that grab you, music that makes you feel. The audience may not know that specific piece of music, but they can connect to it. Remember, guideline not rule – right? While it can be an extreme challenge, I’ve seen incredible performances to music that you’d never expect!
- Consider where you will perform your dance. Will the audience there be able to relate? Sometimes I create with a venue in mind. Sometimes I create because I need to and figure out where to perform it later.
- Do you feel the music? Does it drive you to create? I’m a very emotional person, and this reflects on the way I create, why I create. Figure out what drives you…and then does the music feed this?
I love this video…and there really is some truth in it!
So, I’ve had this piece of music waiting for a long time – until the right time. I knew it needed more time develop, and that it was going to be a challenge. I’d actually heard it long before I added it to my “to create” music. One day it just clicked, I could see it in my mind. Those ideas and visions always change as I create, but I could feel it and it hasn’t left me since. Now, the dancers in my head are saying it’s time. (You do remember I’m a proud fruit loop, right?) ha!
So, like I mentioned in the previous post, this is my song:
It is a bit heavy, may be a bit unexpected for the audience. There are definitely venues where this dance will not fit – especially small stage burlesque type venues. I chose it because of the feeling, the story, the chorus. It grabs me and won’t let go. So – this stirs a thought in my head. I love this song, it’s drawn me in. Who am I creating for? Will the audience feel it, or will it be too jarring when they hear it for their first time?
I think it’s good to go outside your comfort zone, stretch, challenge. The truth is, sometimes my creations are all I want them to be, sometimes they work, on occasion they don’t but I’m ok with that. You never know unless you try, put it out there. One of the most incredible examples of this is a performance by JP Damien and his dancers at Phoenix on June 2nd, the song: Portugal. The Man – Feel It Still (ZHU Remix). I hope everyone gets the chance to see this incredible performance. He embraced his creativity, put it out there, and completely brought the house down. I still have chills and hope to see it again!
To me, Blind and Frozen has great changes in the music, tempo, hits, chorus. I’m not so fond of the 25 second guitar solo. In this case, I’m hoping to edit it. Some choreographers edit their music, many don’t. That is definitely not a requirement, but is a great skill to learn. Simple edits like adding a sound effect at the beginning, or trimming a long fade at the end can be extremely handy to know how to do.
Now that I’ve chosen the music, I always recommend getting a copy of it. As a DJ, it can be extremely hard when someone has choreographed from a youtube video. Youtube videos can have varying quality, there can be over a dozen versions of the same song – all different, and sometimes it’s nearly impossible if not impossible to download it. I always purchase the music when I can – the single mp3 from Amazon. I own it, choreograph it, and I can send it to the DJ knowing they will be playing my version.
For this song, the video on youtube has added sound effects that I want that aren’t on the original mp3 so in this case I downloaded it. (Note: I did also purchase a copy of the mp3 for my own listening – support your music artists!)
So, I’ve chosen my music and I’ve downloaded a copy. Check and check on my timeline!
Breathing deep and enjoying what I do, my way
“Blessed are the weird people:
poets, misfits, writers
mystics, painters, troubadours
for they teach us to see the world through different eyes.”
~ Jacob Nordby
Blind & Frozen Timeline
Start date – 6/2
Performance date – 7/13
|1||6/2||Choose the music||6/2|
|1||6/2||Buy or download the music||6/2|
|2||6/3||Write up an outline for the dance, background, the story, ideas, feelings, how many dancers, etc.|
|4||6/5||Edit the music (if needed)|
|4||6/5||Pick a costume, or something similar to what will be my costume|
|5||6/6||Listen to music for dance and change ideas|
|14||6/15||Work on choreography and record|
|22||6/23||Create style cards for dancers|
|25||6/26||Plan out movers and create routes|
|27||6/28||Test and adjust movers and choreography|
|30||7/1||Test and adjust|
|31||7/2||Pack up set|
|33||7/4||Make any final adjustments|
|33||7/4||Take a copy of set and movers into inventory|