Forum: Ballet / Ballet Choreography

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How to Choreograph a Solo- A guide (karma: 78)
By Livy123
On Sat Jan 17, 2004 10:27 AM
Made sticky by MIClogger (28613) on 2004-01-20 15:14:44 Member Request...

Choreographing ballet is really fun, but just starting out can be really scary! I mean, what do you DO with a blank time slot? Because I know so many people who are in that predicament, I've put together a guide to choreographing. I hope it helps!

Before you start: Find out everything you can about the production. How long should your dance be? What kind of music are you allowed to have? What forms do you have to fill out? Once you’ve covered all the important information, you can get started choreographing.

If you have over 5 weeks till your recital/competition/performance:
Week 1- Choose your music. Pick something that's exciting to you and that you can imagine dancing to. Be sure that it fits the given time and content limits. Once you’ve done this, just listen to your song. Imagine yourself on a stage dancing to it. Do this over. Count out the beats on a sheet of paper. Write down the mood, and verbs that come to mind when you listen to it. Also pay attention to the title; if you’re dancing to the “Blue Danube”, think of a river. Really get to know your music.

Week 2- Start actually dancing to your music. At first, just dance. Let the music move you. After you’ve done this for a while, certain moves will associate with parts of the music. For instance, a flute trill may remind you of a series of chaineé turns. Do it! Blending in with the music makes your dance meaningful, both to you and the audience. Once you’ve those distinct steps that go with the music, it’s time to sort out all the jumble in between. Choose steps that you know well and that go with the tempo and mood of the music. Use plenty of connecting steps, more than you do in a combination in class. Make the distinct steps (like the turns mentioned above) the highlights of your dance, but put mood and energy into all of them

Week 3- It’s time to write it down. Unless you know Labonotation, just plain words will do well. Write each step on a new line in a notebook, using commas before and after connecting steps. Don’t get too attached to this original choreography; it’s going to change! Don’t be tempted to change it as you write it down, though. Writing it down on paper is much different than actually having to dance it! If you want to change your choreography, get up and work it out actively with your music.

Week 4- Now, hopefully, you have a pretty good idea about what your dance is going to look like. Practice it daily, and if you start to get bored of it, stop and change something. You never, ever want a dance to be boring. When you go to class, keep your dance in mind. When you learn new steps, think about including them in your choreography to keep it up to date. Also when you’re in class, practice your stage personality. Pretend that the mirror is the audience and you’re on stage dancing.
This is also about the right time to start thinking about your costume. The production studio you’re in may offer some, but not always, and they usually don’t have a great selection. You might send off for some catalogs- Discount Dance Supply and Capezio have pretty good selections of dresses, etc. You can also look online- lets you choose your design, color, and fabric of costume at pretty good prices. If you know someone who can make you a costume, go for it! Ask them first, of course, then draw a picture of what you would like as a model for it. Keep the music and your steps in mind when you shop for costumes. If you plan to do grand jetes or splits in your dance, you’ll want either a VERY stretchy fabric or a wide skirt. Again, think of the title of your song. “The Blue Danube” is obvious. Something like “The Wedding Variation” would probably require a white dress. If the song doesn’t have a subject, like Mozart‘s, etc., go with the mood of the music. Happy = bright, light colors, Sad = darker, duller colors. You get the picture.

Week 5- Spend this week practicing, practicing, and practicing. Try to practice at least twice with all your costume on- that includes shoes and hairstyle. Though it may sound silly, a hairstyle different than the one you usually wear can throw off your balance. Perfect the steps and pay special attention to your arms- the audience sees your arms more than your feet!

If you have 3 or 4 weeks:
Combine weeks 1, 2 & 3 from above into 1 week.
Combine weeks 4 & 5 from above into 1 week.
If you have 2 weeks or less:
Perhaps your teacher asked you at the last minute to perform. Perhaps you’ve been putting it off. But you only have 2 weeks left. Here’s the plan:

You need inspiration, and you can’t take 2 weeks getting it. Here are ways to jump start your creativity:
Choose music that you love and have already tried dancing to.
Find a costume that you really like and make your dance inspired after it.
Make up a dance and then find music to fit it.

Once you have an idea, work it. You don’t have time to start over, so just go with what you’ve got. Write it down (see above) and practice it A LOT. If you haven’t had time to find a costume, you might try all black- black leo, black skirt, black tights, black shoes. Or ask your teacher if the studio owns some costumes you can borrow.

Also consider improvising. Although it can seem really scary, just dancing from your heart onstage can actually look very nice and very natural. This is usually a last-minute approach, but try to do it a couple of times before you actually perform if you use this, and try not to repeat things too often as they come into your head.

Whatever your dance is, read this:
Before the performance- DON’T go over the dance in your head! Without the music and your muscle memory, you’ll just forget and really scare yourself. Take deep breaths. Doing yoga helps, as does jumping rope and chewing gum (just don’t forget to throw it out before you go on!) Since this is a guide to choreography, I won’t go into all the details of getting rid of stage fright. Just believe in yourself, and you’ll do fine.

When you dance, think about everything you put into your choreography. Let the music move you and guide you. Most importantly, put your whole self into it, and dance from your heart.

166 Replies to How to Choreograph a Solo- A guide

re: How to Choreograph a Solo- A guide
By sfwballerina05member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sat Jan 17, 2004 02:27 PM
wow that's cool. Thanks for the help!
re: How to Choreograph a Solo- A guide
By rhythm5678
On Thu Jan 22, 2004 09:12 AM
That was so helpful! I have to choreograph a dance for my cecchetti grade 4 exam. Thank u so much!
re: How to Choreograph a Solo- A guide
By bopper
On Tue Jan 27, 2004 06:19 PM
Thanks so much. i was really freaking out about my 2.5 minutes short dance
re: How to Choreograph a Solo- A guide
By Si_Kaye
On Thu Feb 05, 2004 08:10 PM
thanks so much
re: How to Choreograph a Solo- A guide
By gracefulflyer5
On Fri Feb 06, 2004 05:07 PM
thanks for the help! Thats awesome information! =)
re: How to Choreograph a Solo- A guide
By heathergomez
On Sun Feb 08, 2004 04:10 AM
great posting thanx
re: How to Choreograph a Solo- A guide
By DanceChick38member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sun Feb 08, 2004 09:35 PM
*with power, the karma fairy dusts karma onto your post*


Great Advise
By Lukagirl
On Sun Feb 22, 2004 04:03 PM
What a simple excellent way to explain Choreographing a Solo. Thanks!
re: How to Choreograph a Solo- A guide
By balletchipmunk
On Wed Mar 10, 2004 08:54 PM
sould good to me! lol
re: How to Choreograph a Solo- A guide
By kersa
On Mon Mar 15, 2004 06:39 AM
Great advice! karma :)
By Linds81888
On Mon Mar 22, 2004 05:18 PM
I needed to read this thank you for your great advice.
re: How to Choreograph a Solo- A guide
By treefrog
On Fri Mar 26, 2004 06:23 PM
This helped a lot with my choreography for my senior farewell! Thanks!
re: How to Choreograph a Solo- A guide
By ltinaballrina07
On Sun Mar 28, 2004 10:03 AM
thanks so much!
re: How to Choreograph a Solo- A guide
By violet_fouette
On Sat Apr 03, 2004 05:08 AM
wow thats excellent, if only i had that all thoise times i was lost choreographing
re: How to Choreograph a Solo- A guide
By tutulessmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Apr 03, 2004 06:32 AM
thanks for the great advice. we'll have to do a dance for school and I've already been wondering how to approach it, but I still have about 9 months to go, lol...
re: How to Choreograph a Solo- A guide
By Dancer213
On Mon Apr 05, 2004 10:20 PM
Thank you so much. Your post is extremely helpful.
re: How to Choreograph a Solo- A guide
By dancesweetheart2
On Wed Apr 14, 2004 08:53 PM
Wow! thanks 4 the help! I have to choreograph a dance for an audition and that is going to be VERY helpful!
By nuxy
On Wed Apr 21, 2004 12:42 PM
ooouuu... that is that what i realy need.... ;DD thnx
re: How to Choreograph a Solo- A guide
By twinkletoes88member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sun Apr 25, 2004 12:52 AM
wow, did you get taught this stuff or is it just something you discovered yourself. Its amazing.
i know that i will need it at some stage so im printing it out for future reference. Thanks
re: How to Choreograph a Solo- A guide
By FieldOfFaeries
On Sun May 23, 2004 05:58 PM
wow good info , i dont have a solo i need to coregraph right now, but i am definitly saving that info and printing it out
re: How to Choreograph a Solo- A guide
By Leonormember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sun May 23, 2004 10:45 PM
That is so great! I am going away as an exchange student and I think I should have a solo to perform over there so I'll start following your very useful guide! thank you so much! ^^ I rated you up too. great post
re: How to Choreograph a Solo- A guide
By XannetteX
On Sat Jun 12, 2004 08:53 PM
Thanks so much. I have eight 8's to fill and am at a mind block.
I so love you for this. Again, THANKS! :) :) :)
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