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Choreography: How to find that first idea.

Choreographers are all inspired by different things. Even if they base their routines on the same stimuli/idea, the finished piece are most likely going to look very different. This is because everyone works in a different way, our imaginations can help us find different uses and ways of using ideas. These interpretations can be based on many different things, our dance training, our personal histories, different routines we’ve seen, and many more. But finding that first idea to explore can be hard for some, while others may have a notebook full of possible ideas. During this post I’ll discuss a few different ways to help inspire the source of your inspiration for your next piece, whether it be for your GCSE choreography or your next professional show.

  1. My go to way of finding inspiration is to find a good piece of music that you can’t help but move to. A piece of music like this will help you out during the first stages of choreography as the beat will push you to find great movement that goes with it. This way is also quite innocent in the way it’s made, there’s no hidden agenda with the movement, it doesn’t have to mean anything or convey a certain message. The movement is simply there to reflect what you want to do to the music. This is a good way to choreograph for little children as well as there isn’t a great emotional investment, although the children can still choose to add some in to enhance the routine. They’ll always be something to help prompt the next movement, be that the lyrics or the beat in the background.
  2. Another way to find inspiration is to work very closely with those who you’re choreographing for. There may be certain ways of moving that suit them a lot better than others, this may inspire you to challenge them or to play to their strengths. This also gives them a little more say in how the work pans out, let them explore certain actions and commands and try to develop their collective movement into a movement pattern that carries across the whole routine. This will give a dance a nice group feel and the dancers will feel a part of the making rather than simply a means to an end.
  3. Along with this, simply watching other works can help inspire your own work. By watching a work that you particularly enjoy you can be inspired to further the exploration of certain themes or movement patterns. It can also reinforce the style you want to work with for your next piece, as well as simply re-energise your commitment to create. There are also benefits to watching work that you don’t enjoy so much, it can give you a better angle to be critical as to understand what worked and why you didn’t like it so much. In turn this can feed into your choreography as you stride to create a piece that you’d enjoy watching a lot more.
  4. Another way to find inspiration, perhaps a little more liked to drama or dance theatre, is to find a prop and to explore the ways in which you can use it. This can also work for finding a costume that you want to use. Explore how they move with the dancers, what ways can it be used, can it be used it more that one way. Just because a scarf is a scarf, doesn’t mean it has to stay a scarf. It could become a wave or a flame, equally it could also be a scarf. The meaning of props in theatre can be fluid, as long as you set up from the very beginning that that can happen. Play around with props that aren’t very concrete, try to avoid tables and chairs. Props can have stories too and these can inspire the movement and message you create.
  5. Along with this the stories you read or are told can inspire the events within your piece. You may want to retell a story through dance. This will make many movement in your piece carry a meaning and will make you more critical of the movements that are placed within the piece as they all need to work in the right way. If the majority don’t, you won’t be doing the story any justice. This can help motivate creators to improve on their practice and to be evaluative throughout the whole process. In this way of working the dancers need to be able to understand the concepts of the piece, in order to convey the emotion or intent of the piece through all their movements.
  6. Similarly to this, spoken word can inspire the work. While this is close to using stories as your inspiration, it doesn’t have to be that the spoken words you’re using crate a story. They may be broken words, or simply one word, that inspires you. Possible explorations for this stimulus may involve looking at how the word makes you feel or how you can create the word through movement. Again, maybe spoken word as your inspiration doesn’t actually include a word, perhaps it’s simply a sound or the way an accent sounds to you.
  7. Popular culture can also inspire you. A film or tv show may inspire you, not only because of the stories or themes it conveys but because of the way it’s shot or the way certain characters are portrayed. Maybe the show constantly flicks between present and future, and you want to explore that during your routine. There may also be a character that stands out to you and you want to explore how that character would adapt in different situations. These can all be ways to start thinking about your own routine.
  8. Perhaps the initial idea that carries the most gravitas is to work with a personal event that you’ve experienced. In this way you can tell your own story, whether it happened to you or someone close to you, you can use everything you experienced during the event to inform your choreography. The emotions, the feelings, your actions, others reactions, the sights you saw during it, everything you can recall will help enrich the choreography.

I hope that in reading this you’ve found at least one other place to start to try to find an idea. While this list is not exhaustive, there are many other places you can find inspiration, it should be helpful to many who are struggling to find their place to start.

Remember there are multiple ways to get in touch with me, so don’t be afraid to ask for help;

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