Forum: Ballet / Ballet Choreography

Ballet Choreography
Working with a prop
By magdalenemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 427, member since Fri Apr 27, 2007
On Wed Sep 25, 2013 09:39 AM

I've been given a solo to choreograph. The music is Blue Danube, and I'm going to have a prop. I have not seen the prop yet so I don't know how much it is going to hinder my movements, but I'm expecting something fairly large on a long stick.

Any ideas for working with the prop?

4 Replies to Working with a prop

re: Working with a prop
By JigEnPointemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 855, member since Mon Jan 23, 2012
On Wed Sep 25, 2013 09:55 AM
Yikes. Any reason you don't know what the prop is? It's hard to give specific advice in this scenario.
re: Working with a prop
By magdalenemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 427, member since Fri Apr 27, 2007
On Wed Sep 25, 2013 10:01 AM
It hasn't been built yet. It was described to me as something made out of japanese fans on a stick, but I have no idea how big this is going to be.
re: Working with a prop
By buckeye2 Comments: 3679, member since Sat Jan 01, 2005
On Wed Sep 25, 2013 03:15 PM
I teach a variety of styles of dance and it amazes me how much a person can be thrown off when you put something in their hands. I started off as a baton twirler, so I had the opposite problem. I couldn't dance without something in my hands!

Best advice, practice practice practice. The prop may feel awkward at first, but go with it. I find it helps if I have the kids run the whole dance many times with just the prop work, and marking everything else so that they can actually concentrate on what they are supposed to do doing with it. If you find that your prop is hard to hold on to, tennis grip tape works wonders for sweaty hands.

Good luck and have fun with it!
re: Working with a prop
By toroandbruinmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 3627, member since Fri Oct 10, 2008
On Thu Sep 26, 2013 10:02 PM
Props can be so much fun! Some years ago when my parents were alive and I was visiting them in Miami, I sought out a popular aerobic-dance-exercise class with an instructor who was a professional Flamenco dancer. In addition to Latin styles, she had choreographed all sorts of styles of dance for the class. One number involved dancing with a broom as a partner. It reminded me of an old-fashioned Gene Kelly type dance.

If the prop is heavy you may have to adjust your balance slightly. In Jazzercise we sometimes have a toning routine in which we lift both a weight (or weights in both hands) and a leg at the same time. For example we might extend the right leg and extend our left arm, with weight, at the same time. Once you are used to it, this actually makes it easier to balance because the weight acts as a counter-balance to the leg.

But of course some props have no weight. In this case it is just a matter of coordination to use the prop at the same time you dance. When my daughter was a teen, she did a Kitri variation from Don Quixote with a fan and had so much fun playing around using that prop. You can flip it open coquettishly, hide behind it, snap it closed angrily, and so on.

I took a few (very few) martial arts classes using a staff and here, again, using the weight of the staff in conjunction with the weight of my body was different from feeling the center of gravity of my body without staff in hand. But once you are used to it the extra weight becomes a tool and an asset, not a liability.

If you are worried about gracefully handling a long, heavy stick, I suggest getting up to speed with a few martial arts staff classes which would give you enough practical movement basics that it would inspire you in the creation of usable choreography.