Quick Tips: Working with Choreographers

by | Oct 1, 2016

Working with a choreographer is an exciting process and great learning experience. No matter if you are an experienced dancer or newly introduced to the dance world, you can apply the following tips to make sure you put “your best foot forward”.

Every choreographer is different in the process of selecting dancers for their choreography; nevertheless, whichever method they use their ultimate goal is to find the dancer that is going to bring their vision to life on stage.

Several of the methods choreographers use to cast dancers are:

  • Observe a class.
    • Choreographers may be looking at:
      • Your lines, style, and expression
      • Deciphering your strengths and weaknesses
  • Hold an audition.
    • Choreographers might use a combination or movement from their future piece to see who can perform it to the best of their liking.
      • They will observe how fast you memorize and pick-up choreography, and how you execute the movement.
      • Do you implement the corrections? Do you understand the metaphors they are using to communicate their vision for the choreography?
  • Speak with the artistic director, ballet mistress/master, or dance teacher.
    • During this meeting the choreographer will ask about dancers who have the strengths and qualities they are looking for.
      • In this situation, the casting process is somewhat out of your control as a dancer; however, it does highlight another reason to always perform to your highest abilities in class and on stage.

If you are aware of the choreographer who will be coming into the studio, try and get a head start by familiarizing yourself with them and their work.

  • Research your choreographer
    • When reading up about them, try and get a sense of what their style of movement is like.
    • What themes can you find in their works, if there are any? Perhaps everything they create is different. Who knows?
    • What music have they gravitated towards in the past?

During the choreography creation process:

  • Always respect what the choreographer is saying and looking for.
    • Depending on who you are working with, they might want to see how you interpret the movement they have choreographed and implement it the way you have danced it.
    • Sometimes choreographers will welcome suggestions; however, ALWAYS wait for them to ask for suggestions before you offer. It may be interpreted as disrespectful if you do not have permission before saying, “what about this move” or “how about we do this step instead”.
  • Come mentally prepared to memorize choreography quickly.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions for clarification.
  • Enjoy the process

Whatever the process they use to select their dancers, always have an open mind, have fun, and enjoy the process. Every time you get in front of a new choreographer see it as learning experience and you will go far.


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