Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Song Choreography - Listening for Changes

Song Choreography - Listening for Changes 120612

I am in the process of doing the choreography for the show Riddle and I will do in the upcoming DANCE QUEENS Dance Festival V. We have picked out the music and I am choreographing away on it. I have a specific process I follow for choreographing to a specific song. It fits whether I am doing individual, couples or group choreography to a song. I described it in a previous post. That post was written just prior to the DANCE QUEENS Choreography Show I. In that show each dancer had the opportunity to describe how she/he does choreography. It is worth reading the details if you are just learning to do sequenced choreography to a song.

One of the striking things is the similarity in how people do choreography to a song. They choose a lot of dances that fit the song, then go through the song over and over listening to it. One of the things they are listening for is change. The change in a song is where the dance changes.

So, I thought it might be fun to give you a self-teaching exercise of where songs change. What I want you to do is to listen to the songs that I have listed (youtube videos) and using the timer on the youtube video identify where the song changes. It can be the tempo or the instrument or a hesitation. Mark on a piece of paper the times where changes occur. These are candidates for changing dances.

You can look at the song I did for the Choreography Show I and my initial list of changes as an example:

  • 5 seconds - guitar starts
  • 8 seconds - drum starts
  • 33 seconds - music uplifts
  • 58 seconds - piano highlighted
  • 81 seconds - hesitation
  • 106 seconds - piano highlight
  • 130 seconds - music uplifts
  • 153 seconds - hesitation
  • 176 seconds - music ends

  • Now that you understand the process, let's practice. I will give you the music video and you mark the changes. You may have to listen several times to get them all. It may help you to make the video full screen while doing this. You can check your answers at the end (BUT NO PEEKING) ...


    First is BOA - I'll Eat You Up


    Louis Armstrong - Mack The Knife (1956)


    Puppini Sisters - Sway


    John Travolta Saturday Night Fever You Should Be Dancing


    "Swan Lake" Ballet Theme song by Tchaikovsky performed by Peter Vamos


    What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction

    Well ...if you did even one of the exercises, you have learned how to divide up a song for doing choreography. Some people (like me) feel precision is important for determining where to change dances. Others allow a lot of lattitude in the timing in making the switch between dances. Either way you have learned how to break down a song so you can express how you feel about each piece of the song and dance to convey your feelings to the audience.