Advanced Dancing 03 (120426)
I asked Caryl Meredith of Spirit Dance Company if she would put her thoughts into a note about choreography. She responded with the insightful note below ...
It is interesting that when Nottoo asked me to write an article, I had just been sharing a few choreography tips with some of the other dancers of the Spirit Dance Company. Some people ask me how do you do it? Where do you start.
Well with me it started in ballet class when I was very young and continued through my adult life until I closed my studio a number of years ago. Some have asked me, “don't you miss it?” Well sure! I did miss some aspects of being a dance teacher. I don't miss the costuming or the fact that for most of my adult life I did not see spring. The”Big” show every year was in May and so I had my head hunched over the sewing machine, or over the keyboard getting music ready for the show when the trees were blossoming and birds were singing out my window.
What I did miss was the advance choreography that one can only do with advanced dancers in RL. I would hear a piece of music that I really loved and had no bodies available to use to interpret the music.
So SL has given me back what I love to do the most. Dancing is wonderful, but for me it has always been interpreting the music, designing something that would strike the heart—creating those special “Wow” moments. I enjoy manipulating lines and angles of the body positioning of dancers on the stage and creating a “picture” along with the energies and synchronization of music and movement. It all has to come together. And that is what I love to do the most.
There are some changes here in sl. Dancers do not have to spend years and years studying to dance. However, as a choreographer and dance teacher all the many years of work in the field have served me well. I understand instinctively musical structure and how to “look” at a piece of music and decide if it is a good one to choreograph (not all music is great for choreography). I know how to “chart it” so that I know exactly where the changes come in the music and where I want to emphasize—with “something.”
Do I know where I am going when I start? Only vaguely. Some of the best choreographic moments in RL and SL come as “happy accidents.” So yes I have a direction.. an idea.. but I don't hold fast to it if something better comes along. Like any other artistic medium, dance is molded and evolves from the soul. Tuning out the physical world and tuning into my inner reality plays a big part in my work. It comes out in the moment. I never know exactly where I am going. But I usually know when I get there. There is no “right or wrong way.” For me it starts with a concept of a show.. then I search for music—same in rl as sl.
In a show, pacing is important. We are all too used to the TV and commercials every few minutes. So focusing the audiences attention has to be a huge consideration. Let your choreographic picture build. You have to make your audience “want” to watch. Something has to happen every few seconds... and there are many ways you can do this. This part is much easier in RL—bodies move easily. Here you have to find an animation for every movement, but it can be done. For me it is a constant search, looking in all kinds of places for animations that can be used—not just dance animations.
If I had to give one piece of advice about how to make a show interesting it would be, Move it! Surprise your Audience. Do the unexpected. Use all the emotions—make them laugh and cry, remember and feel good deep inside—do what you have to do to trigger the heart.
My biggest frustration? Well, mostly knowing what I want.. “If I just had an animation of a Grand Jete for this one spot.” And of course there is not one of the quality that I would use. Being able to “see” something in my head and not be able to find the movement is frustrating. Of course, most of what I “see” are movements that would require an advanced and skilled dancer in rl to motion cap. There are many animations that are poorly executed that I simply will not use.
That said, there have been huge advancements in the quality of animations that are now available in Sl. I hope this trend continues and that there will be more than just club type movements to choose from.
Spirit Dance Company's next show...
La Fiesta.. June, 9th, 16, 23, 30th and July 7th