Learning a new choreography is exciting as you feel that this time you will dance it better than ever before and master it. However, will you really?
1. Thoughts on choreography
Choreography (also called routine or choreo) is a key element through which you are able to show your artistry, technical skills and individuality. Once a brand new choreography is ready, it becomes a skeleton of your dancing. You add timing onto it, clarify directions, specify which points may be accented/highlighted etc. This means you will spend a lot of time making sure your choreo is not just about tapping from left foot to right.
Are you prepared to spend the time learning those details without getting bored?
Many people don't have patience or guidance on how to practice. Year after year the only thing that changes in their dancing is the choreography and the quality stays the same.
Rarely will the steps make a difference to your results at competitions. Judges don't have time to be analyzing the complexity of your choreography. They look for clarity on timing, directions and main characteristics of each dance (e.g. straight legs in Cha cha cha or sway in Foxtrot).
Choreography evolves and changes itself if you practice to the maximum (read the post on full out dancing). You get used to the movement the more you dance it and your body recognizes it as more natural. This helps to "forget" about doing the step, but rather focus on other things- your hands or frame for example. So why not develop all your dances to that level?
2. Possible changes
How to change choreo without really changing it? Some figures within may evolve and take a different shape when you explore it further to suit your style, level etc. For example adding physical hold in Sliding Doors in Rumba vs. no arm connection. The story would be different.
Understandably, some of the steps may simply not suit you i.e. not everyone can have a sky-high develope, do 10 pirouettes or execute an outstanding set of continuous locksteps. Single figures or sections within the dance may change to bring out your best qualities, yet the skeleton remains the same.
You may also want to change the order in which you dance your steps. Could the middle be your new perfect beginning?
Many dancers these days are a little bit like current dating habits- if it doesn't work, just change the whole thing. What happened to working on it, trying to fix it?
Have a look at the videos below of Bryan Watson and Carmen from 2004 and 2008. Compare their choreographies.
Can you see that many figures they dance are the same? We can learn a lot from them.
It's important to remember that a new choreography will not necessarily make you a better dancer. In fact, it may slow down your progress as you will always keep starting from zero. If you want to be a better dancer, you will need to put the hours in.
It would be interesting to hear how often you change your choreography. Leave a comment below.
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Photography: Laurie Young Photography