Are you wondering how to choreograph a dance routine? Or if you even can??? The answer is YES, YOU CAN! And you totally should. Choreographing isn't just for professional dancers with tons of clout. It's a skill that anyone can learn with a little practice and inspiration. Not sure how to start? Just follow this handy 6-step guide and start creating!
Finding the right song could be the easiest or hardest part of choreographing.
Sometimes, you hear a song for the first time and you know, you just KNOW, that it's the one.
Other times, you browse through your entire iTunes library, SoundCloud dashboard, Spotify playlists, and still don't feel anything.
But once you have a song and pick out the section you want to choreograph to, listen to it...A LOT. And don’t just listen – listen with intent.
Look up the lyrics to see how you relate to the meaning of the song. Discover hidden hi-hats and riffs that you can highlight.
Note the "pathways" for movement you want to take – do you want to hit a certain lyric? Or that dope double bass? Visualize ideas as you listen.
You don't need to come up with concrete moves, but understand how you wanna move. And if you need to cut your music, do that first.
Having to wait or skip around to different parts of the song can interrupt the process.
Some tips for finding songs: Best Ways For Dancers To Find New Music
Yes, you can watch videos from your favorite choreographers and remix their routines, but to make something unique to you, try drawing inspiration from your own life and the culture around you.
Read thought-provoking books, watch beautifully shot movies, check out MET Gala costumes, and visit cool museums!
All forms of art can inspire and fuel your art. When you see something inspiring, write it down so you can come back to those ideas later.
Even something simple like an interesting conversation with a friend can turn into a choreography idea or a new dance move.
Already feeling inspired? Watch this video to learn how to turn those ideas and concepts into dance moves!
Freestyling doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to be using those exact moves in your piece. In fact, you probably won’t even remember a lot of what you did!
The point is to let your body respond to the music. Play the whole song and let yourself move. Notice how you naturally groove to certain sounds.
This will be the first "layer" in your choreography. You can then try variations or build more intricate movements on top of it.
Not sure how to start freestyling? Read this article for a few more tips: 5 Dance Tips To Begin Your Freestyle Foundation
And if you put on a song you really love, but still can't come up with any moves, check out this video!
Clay gives you tips for creating unique movements, even when you think you have choreo block.
You probably decided to choreograph to the song because you thought certain sections would look dope on the body.
Is it a climax? A breakdown? An instrumental interlude?
Whatever it is, start with that part. You don’t have to choreograph chronologically from beginning to end.
Start with the chunks that come easier, then build the rest of the choreography around it.
After you've choreographed your favorite chunks, make sure to give some love to those in-between sections!
Just because it’s not a crazy beat combo doesn’t mean it doesn’t have potential to look amazing.
Sometimes it’s those slower moments that are the most memorable. Check out this piece from Galen – it's all about her presence and demeanor.
Even her simple movements are engaging because she's filling those calmer moments with presence, before she goes off in a powerful combo.
A lot of us have the problem of making choreography that looks good in our heads... But not on our bodies. At that point, you just gotta train yourself.
Some refer to this as “cleaning” or “setting,” which involves perfecting certain pictures you make with your body, looking at pathways between points, or drilling quick combinations.
Check out this article to learn more about the cleaning process: How To Execute Choreography Better By Utilizing Your Body With Carlo Darang (Choreo Cookies)
And remember: How you choreograph will be how the piece looks. So when you choreograph a dance, do the moves full out.
For example, if you want a plié somewhere, really bend those knees. Let body rolls go all the way through your body. If you’re doing floorwork – get on the floor!
It's not going to magically look amazing when you perform on stage or in front of the camera. Make it amazing as you're making it.
Watch this video to learn more about dancing full-out, in every moment.
There are probably moments within your piece that feel perfect to you. Don’t change those.
But the piece as a whole is probably a bit rough around the edges, especially if this is your first time choreographing.
As novelist Ernest Hemingway once said, “The first draft of anything is sh*t.”
So don’t worry if it’s not exactly what you wanted it to be. You can work your way there!
Do this by trying out variations of movements, scrapping some sections, changing directions, or adding floorwork – whatever you feel is necessary to “edit” the piece.
And honestly? That’s what makes creating so fun – trying things. Saying “Nope, not that,” or “YES oh my god, it worked!”
It’s supposed to take multiple drafts! Just keep editing until you’re done.
Of course, if you're a perfectionist, you might feel like your piece is never finished, but you gotta draw the line at some point.
While it’s awesome to try to keep improving your piece, there comes a point where you have to say “This is it. It's ready."
It's not about feeling like your piece is perfect. It's about making something that you feel proud to say you made. So when you're done, let it be.
Give yourself a pat on the back. Record the piece and share it with us via our STEEZY Studio members Facebook Group!
Thousands of dancers around the world are not only improving their dance skills on STEEZY Studio... they're joining our community and getting feedback from other dancers!
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Check out this video for a quick recap of this guide AND a few extra tips!