I have to choreograph. Partly for my degree and particularly for my work. If I don’t choreograph my classes tend to fall flat as they are based on the children learning a routine. If I haven’t choreographed a routine, there isn’t a routine for them to learn. While I would be very happy to have the whole lesson be a technique lesson, whereby we work on certain moves or phrases, I understand there is a sense of accomplishment attached to learning a routine to music you like.
Saying that I have to choreograph, does not make it any easier. Don’t get me wrong, I love choreographing and creating routines for the children I teach. But like any other work, it has it’s ups and it’s downs. I find that while I can section off a few hours of my day to choreograph, to ensure it’s done before the lessons I teach, this does not mean the task will get. The task becomes daunting as I choose which song to choreograph to today and then have to start piecing the steps together.
Often when choreographing in this set time frame, I find that I hate the routine I create and often scrap it in favour of something. Take today for example, at 11.30 I set out to choreograph around 30 seconds of a routine. I took around 30minutes choosing which song to choreograph to and then had to decide which age group this would best suit. Then I was to start choreographing. But it just didn’t happen. Maybe it’s just me that this happens to. I took a break a did something else, then when I came back I thought to myself “Why would I ever have chosen that song?” and chose a different song. This one was successful, (so watch out Junior and Senior Freestyle).
So this is what I felt I wanted to talk about. That moment of inspiration that can’t be contained into a set time period. I find that when I do this, I’m so uninspired. Perhaps because the act of choreography then becomes a mundane task, something that must be done, and so my body and mind react in the same way, creating mundane movement that you begin to loathe, or just wanting to repeat the same movement over and over again. This kind of choreography in my mind, just doesn’t work and doesn’t inspire great movement, and if I, as the teacher, am not inspired by what I’ve created, how can I expect the children I teach to be inspired from my classes.
In a way, these moments of being uninspired may transpire from my method of choreography. I tend to sit down, play the music and write down the counts and movement as it comes to my mind. Fixing it together in a way that makes sense or works, trying out about 4 beats at a time to make sure the students would have enough time for each movement. Often I do this sat in my flat, staring at a computer screen, writing out notes that look like this;
“1,2,3,4 – Stay in head down position
5,6,7,8 – Head lifts up to centre, with resistance.
1,2,3,4 – Head turns to the R side, with resistance5,6,7,8 – Head turns to the centre, with resistance1,2,3,4 – Slide to the L side, leaning on R hand and throwing the L arm into the air to help with the slide5,6 – Knees back together, under body, back down this time7 – Head comes up to look at audience, back stays down8 – Wait”
Fairly uninspiring in their written form, but necessary as I have a hard time remembering routines. Always have, always will.
Choreographing in this way creates a divide between the movement and who it’s meant for. My ideal situation would be to create work for myself and the people around at the time. Physically choreographing movement on the spot. I could do this during the times I teach, but it takes practice, and my skill isn’t quite up there yet. I’ve also been in classes where this impromptu choreography has stalled the class and often the students will then begin to take the upper hand, choreographing for you, as you’ve been taking too long. For now I don’t want my classes to be like that. So for the moment this way of choreographing is not open to me.
My method of choreography often fails. I may turn up to teach and find the routine is way to hard the class I thought it would be great for. When these cases come up I tend to just rework the choreography as I teach it, changing the timing and steps around into a form that will suit them better. This becomes confusing, as writing this new form of the routine down at the same time teaching it is impossible, so I choose to give the students my full attention. Hoping that I’ll remember what I changed, or that come next week they won’t have forgotten it.
Overall, I find the routines that are easy to choreograph, where the creativity you need just flows, makes for the best lessons. When the creativity flows, I feel it is less effortful to remember the movement that you created, making it easier to teach the routine to the students. I am constantly in awe of the people who find inspiration everywhere, all the time. As at my current state inspiration for choreography only hits me when I’m out cycling or sat on a train, both very impractical times to get out pen and paper and jot it down while testing the movement out to the song.