Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Sirens Call - A Beginning for the New Dancer, Post 3 - What is this Choreo Thing and Choosing Music

A new series, sharing my own beliefs, methods, and suggestions for the new dancer.  As with anything I say or teach - QUESTION EVERYTHING!  There are many different approaches and methods to dance.  From all you learn, all you experience, strive to create your own methods, ideas, and knowledge.  Unique and your own.

Disclaimer:  The author of this article wishes to point out, in case it was not already embarrassingly, ridiculously obvious, that the opinions expressed belong solely to the author and they do not represent in any way those of Dance Queens, Dance Queens members, any affiliations, friends, non-friends, the guy in the 3rd row, or management.  If you must...EvaHarley bio

If you are reading post 3, then welcome to the insanity!  It's a lovely place to be, truly!  Well, except Tuesdays when the dancers in my head have tango day.  Too much shouting. (looks for Excedrin)

So, Post 1 was about foundation, and Post 2 was about observation and inspiration.  Today, let's jump down the rabbit hole and talk about choreography and choosing music!  As many might know, choreography is my favorite parts of dance.  So what is choreography, especially in SL?  Ohhh....this is one of those topics that can get me jabbering away until I see the eyes starting to glaze over and people making excuses like "it's time to eat my lima beans now" - which is a totally lame excuse because I'm sure NO ONE likes lima beans.  So then...

Choreography is the act of linking individual animations together and playing them in an order that creates an expressive dance - generally to music.  Listening to the rhythm, transitions, and lyrics of the music, the choreographer creates a sequence that conveys movement and emotion.

Example:  you have a spin animation, a tapping animation, and a jump animation.  Generally the choreographer would play the animations as they listen to the music and "feel" how they fit together for the song.  Perhaps they might start by tapping, then go into the jump, and finish with a big spin.  They pick through and choose animations that fit the performance.

This can be one of the most amazing, frustrating, wonderful, and fun parts of creating a dance for me!  There is more to it as you begin to refine your choreography, making it smoother and your own.  Most performances I estimate contain between 20-30 animations, and should always be mixed up, different animations from different animation creators and different dance packs. 

You'll need animations and an animation HUD for this process, but before you run out and buy those it's important for you to choose an initial song to learn/play with.  Your music will help you choose animations which can get expensive quickly, especially if you have a blow out shopping spree.  Just like that polka dot shirt in your closet, you'll wonder WHAT you were thinking a month later.

Hopefully you've visited many different venues, experienced performances by many different choreographers.  What style of dance spoke to you?  Linking onto this, do you have a song in mind that moves you?  Perhaps feel deeply that you want to create?  This is a good start!  Always keep a list of song ideas.  Inspiration hits at any time!  

Practically any song can be choreographed for dance, but some can be much harder because of the style, the rhythm, the length, etc.  Learning to create choreography is an amazing growing process.  Start slowly and build you way up to the more difficult pieces.  Honestly, trying to choreograph your first dance to a 9 minute opera without lyrics for 20 dancers is a recipe to set yourself up for failure.  That's like jumping into Thermonuclear Principles of Energy and Dynamics on day 1!

Creating should be fun!  (Most days) so here are some tips for choosing music:
  • Latin and pop/electronic music is great to start with because of the number of animations available in SL.  Every single animations store you go to will almost always have dance animations that fit this style.  Baroque?  not so much.  This style of music is also high energy too which can make it a lot of fun.
  • Choose a song that has several highs and lows in it, changes in tempo.  This, plus catchy/powerful chorus' really help keep the dance and choreography interesting.  I love the Lumineers, but some of their songs don't have many changes - a challenge to keep audience attention.   Keep your audience from drifting off to shop on market place.
  • For the love of all that is right in the world, choose a song you can listen to 8,432 times because I promise you will!  
  • If you are just starting, choose a song between 3 and 4 minutes.  Many venues don't allow music over 5/6 minutes or you need special approval.
  • Select a song that the audience can connect to in some way.  The most amazing performances are ones that I can lose myself in.  I LOVE Gloryhammer - Magic Dragon HERE, but this is one that would be tough for the audience to embrace.  It doesn't have to be a top 40 song of course, but something relatable.
  • If you hope to perform the song you're creating, I would recommend avoiding music with an overtly religious, political, or potentially divisive message unless you're creating it for a specific venue.
  • Choose a song that you will look forward to creating!  It takes time to create choreography and you'll be learning a lot through this process.  I'd recommend choosing something fun and uplifting for at least the first couple of dances you create.
Repeat it with me:  THERE ARE NO RULES IN DANCE.  Guidelines - yes, venue rules - yes, but in the act of creating - NO.  What I've listed above?  Suggestions, especially for the beginning choreographer.  I have seen so many acts that defied convention and were absolutely brilliant.  The choice is always yours.

Want more?  Find it HERE