Once your students know their choreography now comes the tough part. Keeping it fresh and clean. Plus we need to communicate with the dancers so that they understand that it is human nature to start to modify movement to make it easier or more comfortable. It can be a chore cleaning all the technique up so that the dancers can shine and sparkle when going before an audience. Each teacher will have their own individual way of cleaning their choreography but it will also be very helpful to them, especially if they are inexperienced, to have some tips to follow.
It is obviously much easier if you have a solo or duo/trio to correct and it gets progressively harder the larger the groups become. Some people naturally have an eagle eye for finding discrepancies in the choreography but others do not have that ability to fine tune every movement. With a little help and some useful guidance all of your teachers can learn to make your numbers look spectacular.
Let's start with your beginner or recreational students. Take a look at the numbers and make sure that all of the technique that the dancers are required to do is within their technical knowledge and capabilities. In other words if your recreational dancers who maybe take one ballet class a week if you are lucky, are being asked to do fouette turns that is definitely a recipe for disaster and there is no way in the world that anyone is going to be able to get them to stay together. It is too much to ask of them because they do not have enough strength or understanding of the movement to make it work. As the dancers become more advanced, the level of technical expectancy also goes up and the fine tuning aspect becomes even more important. I would definitely make sure that as a studio owner or dance school director that you oversee all choreography as it will certainly help if any of your teachers need some input. I like for my teachers to have complete creative freedom but they know that I am always there to give advice or guidance when necessary.
Choreography that is clean and precise always looks great whatever the level of the dancer.
Here are some guidelines to help the process along:
1) Study the number and be on the lookout for any mistakes.
2) Make sure all the angles of the bodies are the same.
3) Check that all port de bras are following the same lines and that the dancers are using the full range of motion from their backs.
4) Go through each section of the dance count by count, making sure that each dancer is absolutely certain of their counts.
5) Encourage each dancer to have a copy of their music on a CD or on their IPod. They need to know their music inside and out.
6) Check that if the number contains pirouettes that all of the dancers are rotating at exactly the same rate.
7) Take the time to have each dancer perform their routine by themselves. This will be a sure fire way of discovering if they really know the choreography or if they are "faking" it!
8) Make sure that all of the dancers are on the same page as far as the performance or interpretive side of the routine goes. Teachers can become very proficient in training themselves to see every mistake and students can also be trained to do the same thing. I have found that it really helps my dancers if one by one they sit in front and watch the number, so that they can see for themselves when things are not up to par or need fixing. Sometimes when they are always within the group they just don't understand some of the fine tuning that is needed and this helps them to see for themselves and seems to make a more lasting impression.
Fine tuning of choreography and the technique involved can be the most difficult part of getting a number ready for performance but every minute that you spend doing it will pay off in the end. Not only will it make your dancer's results more successful but it will also help train your teachers to have a great eye for mistakes.
Good luck with all of your performances this year, they are, after all, our best marketing tool to attract new customers to our studios and also to keep the ones we have coming back for more!