Dance Composition – An Introduction

March 14, 2013 Caroleeena DancehoopdancePoiUncategorized

Dance composition kinesphere

“Choreography is simpler than you think. Just go and do, and don’t think so much about it. Just make something interesting.” – George Balanchine

The following is a synopsis of several aspects of the choreographic process. Over time I hope to elaborate on many of these concepts. This is the framework I plan to work from.

Choreographic Process
1. Choose a subject matter or theme.
2. Explore and select movements to include.
3. Coordinate music and highlight chosen movements.
4. Explore possibilities between the moves you want to highlight.
5. Refine and memorize the dance.
6. Add finishing touches (such as fingers, directed gaze, poses).
7. Perform the dance.

Foundation of building choreography? Time + Space + Energy
– Time: Tempo, rhythm, freeze/unfreeze, canon, call/response.
– Space: five levels, spacial exposure, axial, locomotion, formations, dimensions, shape.
– Energy: tension vs. release, seven qualities of movement.

Elements of Time and Timing
– Tempo and speed
– Poses vs. Movement
– Beat Punctuation
– Musicality

Temporal Elements for Use in Groups
– Unison: All the dancers are moving identically in time, all together, like a Rockette’s line kick.
– Freezes: Where one or more dancers freeze, in unison, as another (or others) dance.
– Canon: like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”, dancers start the movement phrases one after the other. This can be done from right to left, or front to back, or any other combination. One person might begin a sequence, two beats later another starts the sequence (at the beginning, not joining in), two beats later a third starts the sequence. First dancer done might end in a freeze.
– Call and Response: One dancer (or group) does a move, then freezes; the second dancer (or group) does a move in response.
– Mirroring: One dancer mirrors another.

Dance levels

I. Levels to Explore
– Low: Flat on the floor. Sleeping on floor. Slithering on floor. Rolling on floor. Tool on or near floor.
– Low Middle: Crawling. Sitting. Kneeling. Tool at knee level.
– Middle: Standing. Walking. Running. Standing turn. Tool at waist level.
– Middle High: Sliding. Galloping. Skipping. Holding a tool at shoulder height.
– High: Jumping. Body lifts. Leaping. Lifting a tool high. Throwing a tool high.

II. LocomotionKinesphere
– Axial Movement: Movement that stays in one location and moves around the core of the body, like a spin or a pirouette or a piece of footwork like a tendu.
– Locomotor Movement: Movement that carries you through space from one location to another.

I. The Seven Qualities of Movementenergy in dance
– Swing: Pendular.
– Sustain: Even flow of energy.
– Suspend: Momentary weightlessness.
– Explode: Short burst of energy. Expansion.
– Collapse: Release of energy.Contraction.
– Staccato: Sharp, quick, non-percussive.
– Vibrate –> Quick rhythmic bursts of energy.
– Stillness –> Poses.

Areas Of The Stage
– The diagonals of the stage are the STRONGEST lines on the stage.
– Center stage is both the strongest and weakest part of the stage. For a climax it can be strong, but spend too much time there and it becomes dull and boring.
Using the stage– The very front part of the stage is comedic.
– The very sides of the stage are very weak. Spending time there is not recommended.
– Circles are extremely strong and should only be used for a climax or a building up to a climax.
– Downstage corners are good for exits. Upstage corners are good for entrances.
– Middle of the side is the WORST place to enter or exit. Or really do anything at all.

Staging The Dance
– Center Stage is the most important but if it is overused it quickly becomes boring.
– The corner has a sense of privacy. As if the audience is looking in on something secret.
– If you turn your back to the audience for too long, you may lose them.
– Coming forward in a straight line (directly at the audience) can be unsettling to the audience, like an attack or like they are about to be included in some way. This can be used for effect if that feeling is what the choreographer is trying to achieve.
– Symmetry is predictable and can be lifeless. Symmetry rarely happens in nature.
– Movements look slower and weaker on stage.
– Dances are usually too long.
– Monotony is fatal. Transition through levels, speeds, and energy to keep the dance dynamic.

“I use dancing to embellish, extend or enlarge upon an existing emotion.” – Gower Champion


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