When we choreograph for our students, particular multiple numbers in the course of a season, it’s easy to rack your brain coming up with concepts for those pieces. While we are often inspired by music, life experiences, various other art forms, people, etc. can also spark inspiration. Because we are also inundated with what we see at competition and on T.V. we might often think that without grand scheme concepts, our pieces are simply not extravagant or creative enough.

This is when we can often start comparing our studio’s pieces to others. One might wonder that without elaborate costumes, sets and props whether or not we stack up. Are our pieces exciting enough? Thought provoking enough? Entertaining enough? The answer is yes. And if thoughtful and done well, become a refreshing change of pace for the audience’s eye.

 I can’t tell you how many times I’ve judged at competition that I’ve seen piece after piece that has incorporated everything except the kitchen sink to try and “be original,” when it has fallen short except for presenting things we have seen a thousand times over from other studios. Now don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for a strategically used set piece or prop, but it’s not a requirement. There are extraordinary numbers I’ve seen which might seem, “simple,” but have more texture, depth, dimension, nuance and thoughtful choreography than the former.

As a choreographer, sometimes stripping things down to a solid idea with solid technique, original music and choreography can transcend those pieces we’ve seen a million times like the nightmare that comes to life from under the bed, the tape over the mouths to signify silence, the straight jacket prop, the park bench set, etc. etc.

The point being, is this. Don’t get sidetracked from your artistry or what speaks to you. Don’t compare yourselves to what others may or may not be doing. Beautiful movement with a clear intention which is well rehearsed, understood and emoted by your dancers and has an all-around polished presentation will speak volumes to your audiences. It will be memorable. It will move them. Concepts and themes are wonderful because they give our dancers something tangible to grasp onto (especially for younger dancers,) but not every piece requires it. Movement for movement’s sake can bask in beauty too.

So, the next time you feel your, “simple” dance number might not stack up, remember not everyone needs a gimmick 100% of the time. Be versatile, show range and stay true to your choreographic vision!

Good luck,

See you in the dance studio,

Jess

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