Now Playing: 30secondstomars (iheartthem)
Mood: olives, humus, and cheese (seriously, not just ‘cause I BD)
I thought I’d do double duty and answer one of Shimmy Cast’s questions of the week and post it here as well. “How do you choreograph?” This isn’t the current QoW but I can still answer it on SC’s forum.
This can actually be an involved process for me. First, I am VERY particular about the music I dance to. Mostly, I have to REALLY like the song. Otherwise, when I sit down to choreograph, I will get frustrated with it if there are too many parts in the song I can’t wrap my brain around. I sit down with a piece of paper and pencil and listen to the music preferablely on a CD player that shows the time of the song as it plays. That way, as I write, I can notate a certain section by what time it is at (i.e. minute 2:43 drum section,) and fast forward directly to it when I want.
I mark every eight counts out on the margin of the page and the minutes of where the important time changes are:
I do this for the whole song. Then, 90% of the time, I already know what moves I want in a certain section, because I already imagined those in my head when I first decided I liked the song. I go ahead and write those moves in next to the corresponding 8 counts of the music.
Then I go through the song, usually from top to bottom, and play it, dance, write it down. This process very rarely goes smoothly, as I sometimes skip around depending on what part of the song inspires me at the moment (this is where knowing the minutes in the song comes in handy.) And I REALLY don’t like to just write down a move to fill an 8 count just because I need to fill it. If I write in a movement or combination I want it to properly express that section of music as I hear/feel it when I listen.
This often times leads to my choreographies lying around unfinished for weeks and months because I wait until inspiration hits. I have notebooks that have had unfinished choreographies in them for years. I also find, that as time passes, I can dig out an old choreography, listen to the song, and hear it in a whole different way. I can then fill in old blank spots or even better define sections I had previously written.
As to how I actually choreograph, I of course play the song and dance to it, but since Middle Eastern music tends to be complex and layered it is easy to think of many different movements for the same section. Should you dance to the drum? The melody? A certain accent? I usually approach it by kinda-sorta singing along. I don’t mean I actually sing the song, but in the way you may find yourself explaining the song to another dancer… “You know the song that goes, ‘La la, doom, tec, doo, dee, do, tec.’” The parts I find that I would sing along to to describe the song are the parts I tend to choreograph my moves to. With songs that are heavy on melody or drum, etc. I can switch it up and dance to underlying instruments or sounds to add a more dynamic interpretation to the piece.
That’s not to say I don’t leave sections unchoreographed for taxim or improv, but it is definitely a love-hate relationship for me when it comes to choreographing.