Lately, my dancing life is overrun with choreography. I’m currently working on a routine for the lindy hopping Midshipmen for the Naval Academy’s International Ball, choreographing a new solo jazz routine for the upcoming First Sunday Festivals in Annapolis, and working on some jam material for our upcoming dance in March. When I’m out dancing socially, I rarely think about what comes next, the benefit of years of experience and practice. But choreography forces me to think differently.
Choreography pulls me outside of real time, and gives me the opportunity to think about moves, transitions and styling on a much deeper level. Because its all preplanned and rehearsed, new levels of intricacy in footwork suddenly become possible, and I often figure out ways to link together moves in new and creative ways. Sometimes, I “invent” a new move, or at least a variation I had never done before. With all of the drill and repetition, I get very practiced at these new combinations, so they often work their way into my social dancing.
I’m not the only one doing choreography, though, and I benefit from the work of others. Watching videos of showcase routines on YouTube, I often see the same kind of craftsmanship and creativity on display. Okay. . .I often see a higher level of craftsmanship and creativity, but I’m working on it! I don’t let other people’s hard work go to waste, though. I dissect it, steal it, practice it, and work the juicy new bits into my own dancing.
We aren’t all going to be choreographing large dance routines, but we can all benefit from choreography as a tool. I especially like to encourage beginning leads to think of one new move or combination before they go to a dance, and focus on mastering that one new thing. Beginner leads aren’t the only ones who benefit. I still benefit from choreography. For follows, its a wonderful opportunity to develop styling variations and improve footwork. On the social dance floor, we are like jazz musicians, improvising and exploring extemporaneously. Choreography gives us the chance to compose ourselves.