Have you been toying around with the idea of taking one of your choreographic masterpieces out of the vault? All of us have at one time or another created a piece that we actually really love and stands the test of time, so why not make it a part of your repertoire? It’s not unheard of, even in the biggest of dance companies with new works being commissioned all the time. Remember, many of them have built their legacy on those famous dances which made them synonymous with the dance world.
There is a lot to consider when thinking about resetting a work in order to make it successful. It’s important to recognize the difference of just not being lazy or inspired to set forth a new work vs. recognizing that you have a group of dancers which inspire you to recycle it. When done right and for the right reasons, the end result can have a wonderful way of bringing old choreography to life again in a refreshing and exciting new way. When that occurs, it then feels like it’s being set for the very first time.
Here are some important things to be mindful of when redoing a piece that will help you avoid pitfalls and make the whole rehearsal process much smoother!
Allow ample time between the premiere and the remake. Give yourself a decent amount of time before resetting a piece; no matter how successful it was. You have to allow your audience to be able to see it with fresh eyes for it to maintain its wow-factor. Nobody wants to see a piece you set a year or two ago hit the stage again. It needs time to be missed!
Remember that the dancers you are using are not the original cast. While your current dancers may be technically better than the previous, remember this work will innately be a new piece because you have dancers who will interpret movement differently and put their own spin on your choreography. They will also see it with fresh eyes so it will unlikely be an exact replication. Allow it to organically take its course and evolve where necessary….this current cast is what is going to make all things new again. (*this is where you also may decide whether or not you would like to show dancers video of the previous performance for an idea of their track, etc.)
Decide the changes you would like to implement. Are you thinking of changing the cast size, formation changes, solo/duet sections, timing on entrances & exits, costumes, lighting cues, etc? It is important to sit and watch the video of things you really liked about the piece and things you would like to do differently this time around; in order to revamp it and give it a little facelift. Think about how this will affect the scope of the piece. Will it still feel like the original you want to set after the changes? Does it change it too much? Or is that something you’re OK with? Is it still a resetting of the same piece then? This really depends on how closely you would like to remain to your original production.
Be honest about whether the piece is contemporary. Does your piece stand the test of time? Is it a classic that will still resonate with current audiences? Or is it dated and a bit long in the tooth? You have to be realistic and very objective with your own work. Acknowledge whether it is something that is relevant to “now,” or something which maybe was great for the audiences at the time but deserves a comfy resting place on the shelf.
Remember to let rehearsals take their current course. Try and treat rehearsals as though this is new for you too. Frustration can occur if certain sections or dancers or counts don’t line up the way they did the first time around. Leave room for things that are inevitable to be different and embrace the evolution of your work. Let it speak to new audiences in a naturally organic way!
Enjoy it! This is still your baby, no matter when it was choreographed. So remember to embrace it and view it with fresh eyes as though it was the world premiere.
Good Luck with your masterpieces! ;)
See you in the dance studio,