The Language of Dance

In ballet, choreography is often used to tell a story and in solo Jazz certain moves can be used in conjunction with the music to create an entertaining performance. The same can be said for Rock and Roll and Swing. When we are being taught a routine for the first time, we often use counts or steps. We know where to be on each count and this helps us remember the routine until it is ingrained in our muscle memory. It is important to remember, though, there is a lot more behind choreography than simple steps or counts. Depending on the intent of the choreographer, choreography can be used to deliver any combination of entertainment value, range of emotion or story.

In most cases, there will come a time when counts and steps are forgotten. We have rehearsed the routine so many times it is now second nature and there is no more thought about what the next sequence is or where we need to be. Instead, we begin to give thought to the intrinsic elements behind the choreography – the story. No matter which role you are playing within the routine – front, centre, stage left or right, you are a vital aspect of the overall delivery. There is a huge amount of character, emotion and entertainment value both for the performer and the audience. As performers, it is our responsibility and duty to deliver all those aspects of the routine to the audience. We can use positive or negative emotion through facial expressions and body movement, we can ask questions to the audience by holding open body language and we can make sharp statements by closing ourselves off in quick movements. Just like a conversation between two people, there is an infinite supply of sequences, combinations, emotion and story we can use – it’s an entire language in itself. By studying choreography with a little depth I can begin to understand the reasoning behind it. For example, a complex yet flowing Texas-Tommy variation which leads into a crossed hand hold or “octopus arms”, as many of our students call it, can convey technicality and degree of difficulty, however just the same it can reflect emotions such as confusion or hesitation. These feelings can be built around a character, situation or scenario and from here a story is born. There is a lot more to performing than meets the eye. Once the choreography has been learnt it must be experienced. These aspects of performing can be difficult to refine and perfect though it is an amazing feeling when the right balance between dancing, performing and story-telling is found. The connection with yourself, your partner, the music and the audience comes together seamlessly to create a wonderful aura. Next time you find yourself watching a performance try to analyse the story behind it. It may simply be one to entertain the crowd or it may have deeper undertones you need to decipher by connecting with varies elements. If you are a performer, connecting with all these elements can make a world of difference to everyone involved. It isn’t an easy concept, however it is incredibly satisfying once you realise its full potential to deliver an amazing range of information. #Swing #Dance #Choreography

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