Choreography Exercises

Do you have a group of kids ready to start creating their own work? Or maybe you struggle with a starting place for your own choreo? When I struggle coming up with new and interesting ideas, I always go back to the list of exercises my teacher in college put us through... and I always find somewhere to start. 

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Here are some of my favorite ideas! They are made to be starting points more than step-by-steps. Feel free to make any changes, decisions, and modifications you need to make.

#1 - Start with a floor plan.

  1. Begin with a piece of paper; start on one side of the page, and draw a shape; it can be any shape as long as you don't pick up the pen.
  2. Then, make this shape into your floor plan by incorporating high and low body movements, fast and slow, sharp and soft, forceful and delicate.
  3. If you are working in groups, ask two students to then work through their floor plans at the same time, and find places to synchronize and mimic each other, or work in opposition of each other.
>>>>>You might like: XL Drawing Paper

#2 - Start with a Rhythm.
  1. Pick a rhythm or beat; tap out a beat with your hands or feet. 
  2. Mimic the rhythm with dance steps of your choice. 
  3. If you are working in groups, have several students work together, and choreograph each rhythm. Then, perform each rhythm one at a time, going from one to another, all students dancing together. 
  4. Then, as an experiment, have all students work through their rhythm at the same time.
>>>>>You might like: Drum Sex (drum music) by Brent Lewis

#3 - Start with a Verse.
  1. Start with a poem, verse, or rhyme. Choreograph the verse or poem in any way you desire.
  2. Have 2 students perform their pieces at the same time, without any music or spoken word. Find places where they can mimic, interact, or work with or around each other. 
  3. Switch roles, and have each student perform the opposite student's piece. (They will interpret it differently and it will result in a different piece all together).
>>>>>You might like: Elizabeth Barrett Browning

#4 - Start with Shapes.
  1. Draw or write out 15-20 body shapes.
  2. Organize them in a way that they flow evenly and smoothly, one to another.
  3. Put 2 students together, and have them work their shapes at the same times. Find ways for them to interact with each other. (for example: if one student is in the floor and the other student is in an X shape, have the X student in the air above the floor student; if one student is facing one way, and the other is facing the other way, put them back-to-back)
>>>>>You might like: Bulldog Yoga; online streaming yoga classes (without all the weird stuff)

#5 - Start with the Music.
  1. Pick a piece of music, and choreograph it completely interpreting the story and words of the song.
  2. Pick another song completely different, and perform the same dance to that different song, finding new ways to interpret and relate to the music.
  3. This gets highly complicated with two dancers working at the same time, but if you have 2 or 3 students able to really listen and understand music, it can be really powerful!

#6 - Start with a Combination.
  1. Begin with a combination the student knows (a long waltz, adagio, grand allegro, etc.)
  2. Ask 2 students to do it at the same time, one on the right, the other on the left.
  3. Try having one student work from beginning to end, while the other student works from the end to the beginning, at the same time.
>>>>>You might like: combinations for being Grounded - part 1 and 2

#7 - Put these ideas together.
  1. Have one student do one of these other 6 exercises, and another student do a different one. 
  2. Ask the students to work at the same time, and watch for places they can interact.

A few tips:
  • Putting dances together can sometimes be tricky; you'll have to make changes, give some suggestions, and allow certain ideas to go (or be saved for later). 
  • Avoid floor plans or dances that go from one side of the stage to the other, and then back again.
  • Be sure you are incorporating different levels (low to the ground, medium, and high (releve, developpes, kicks, jumps, etc)
  • Be flexible on music... Sometimes the music doesn't even matter
  • Don't try to do too much at one time; these are all meant to be long-term projects, not to be done in one class session.

    Good luck! And I'd love to see your choreography when it's all done! Leave a link in the comments!

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