What is choreography

Igor Polk , January 21 , 2008

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Other articles you might be interested in:

Choreography vs. Improvisation in Tango;

What is dancing;

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I am not going to talk much about it: take a book teaching choreography and read it.
I am sure you will be surprised with the vastness of the material to know to be able to choreograph a dance.

I am going to talk only about something related to the myth (yeah, a myth again ) that choreography is memorizing and doing patterns like a monkey.

When you talk about a choreography you can choose from what position to think about it.
From a position of a chorus member, from a position of a soloist, or from a position of a choreographer who during the performance sits behind the curtains.

By the way, nobody assigns you a position in tango. You choose it yourself!

Let examine the choreographer's view. For him choreography is highly creative and challenging process of creation of a great impact dance considering the abilities of involved dancers.
It must satisfy the tastes of a broad range of public: from newbie to aficionados. From those who know nothing about it, and to experts who are always ego to criticize "No, No, this is not right, it sucks ! Another guy around the corner is better, I remember one performance 50 years ago. That was tango !", and at the same time introduce an idea in the dance and convey it successfully without words.

Creating the dance, a serious chorographer might spend hours or even days per a minute of a dance IMPROVISING, trying this and that, looking for the cornerstones, and new moves, or well forgotten ones. It is especially difficult when the dance must portray the social dance. Because in this task, the chorographer much grab the essence of it, churning tons of material, and staying in this boundaries of the real staff, impress the public with an image and technique which makes an imprint in their memories forever.

The less ambitious choreographer still has complex creative task, and a lot of skills and knowledge are necessary to create a wonderful dance which at least one person might enjoy - a partner.

Chorus girls. Yeah, they just should memorize it and do it. Correctly and nicely. Again, nobody asks you to be a chorus girl. You choose yourself whom to be in tango !

Soloists, ah !
That is another matter !
They do not just move along memorized lines. They have roles ! They perform ! They are actors. They express feeling, grace, technique beyond average, and doing so they should make sure that the dance just flows out of them. Naturally and as if it is improvised. Otherwise public will not believe them and they will go back - to chorus. Have your ever tried to dance choreographed dance as if it is improvised? Try it.. And remember: a slightest mistake will blow everything. I am not making a discovery saying that to achieve that, besides everything else, they must truly feel the truth, and truly improvise on stage. In their own way.

I hope now you will have more respect to great masters, and and will recognize those who pretend to be them - who just dance simplistic memorized patterns and sell it to you as "a truly improvised social dance"

Now the question might arise. What is improvisation?

PS. In tango we are urged to become choreographers and soloists. Choreographers at work, on the stage when they are creating, and soloist when they perform. At the same time.

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Copyright©2008 Igor Polk
Dance Tango in Palo Alto and San Francisco Bay Area