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  1. #1
    Member lilith71's Avatar
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    Default How do you put choreography to a song?

    Okay, okay my girls and I in class would like to make up our own dance and I'm scratching my head trying to figure out how you add the moves to the beats? Do you write down the move while stopping and starting the song, then practice it out? Do you just start dancing the moves, then write it down later, or is there a master plan? Just curious as to how any newbies got started.

  2. #2
    Junior Member Rachel's Avatar
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    I find a piece of music that really moves me, and I also research to find the meaning of the song so that I can add the correct feeling/presence to the dance to join the two. This also rules out a few songs once you realize what the translation comes out as.

    Then I let the music guide my moves. As the moves come to the music I write them down in my notebook. Start the music again, roll through that sequence of moves and see what works best for the next sequence of moves, write it down, and repeat. So yes, there are definitely a lot of starts and stops and you will have the first 1/2 aced and fine tuned by the time you are done.

    Another trick is by the time you are 1/2 way through the piece, use the fast forward to the point where you are starting the last 1/2 of the moves. This way you don't overdo the first 1/2 and run out of energy and ideas by the last 1/2.

    Have fun. I love creating choreographies :o)

  3. #3
    V.I.P. Ariadne's Avatar
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    Bellydance: How to create a choreography

    And yes, defiantly research the song.

  4. #4
    Junior Member Aurelia's Avatar
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    Learning the structure of a song is really important too, in my opinion. I listen to it over and over first; then, I try to map it out. You can do this various ways -- you can count it out first just to see how many bars or phrases there are total and then label the sections according to the "feeling" you're hearing there, you can identify verses, bridges and choruses (even if the music doesn't have vocals), you can just listen for themes or melodies that repeat, and name them (melody A, melody B), or if it's a drum solo, you can map out the rhythms and how many cycles each lasts (assuming that it changes).

    For example, it wasn't until I mapped out one version of Sashkin that I realized "Oh, Phrase A happens 4 times, then Phrase B happens 4 times, but after that, there are only 2 Phrase A's to every 4 Phrase B's. And, oh, look at that, part of the bridge is actually the exact same rhythmically as the opening." For some people this is probably obvious, but it wasn't obvious to me until I had it written down in front of me. Knowing the structure made it much easier to both choreograph AND improv, since only certain movements really went with each phrase.

    If you're teaching choreography to others, it really helps to let the ones who are learning see your map or map the structure themselves -- that way they will (hopefully) move beyond just counting and really begin to understand how the music and the movement are intertwined.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator gisela's Avatar
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    Improvise many times to the piece and see if you find something you like that fits. Don't feel like you have to start at the beginning and end at the end. If a piece in the middle speaks to you then start with that and then fill the rest out.

  6. #6
    Senior Member maria_harlequin's Avatar
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    I never write down my choreographies...goodness knows I've tried more than once because it has its benefits but it's never worked for me.

    What I do is I listen to a piece over and over again and I picture myself dancing to it in my head. Then I'll turn the music on and improvise and if I do something that works, I remember it and then "pin" it down in my mind. I continue mentally "pinning" sections until I've got the whole thing down. This is the only way that works for me and for some reason, I never forget what I've "pinned" in my head which is a bit strange because I'm terrible at remembering other people's choreographies!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Eshta's Avatar
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    The same as what everyone else has said, the only thing I'd add would be:

    *listen to the shape of the melody, don't dance just to the rhythm.
    *Look out for 'punctuation' in the music, the music often flows like sentences so it will often tell you how to punctuate it
    *Don't shy away from music with lots of changes and contrasts in it and stick to pop just because it feels 'safe'. I find pop harder to choreograph because it is so repetitive, whereas music written specifically for belly dance is made with a view to showcasing the dancer.

    When I'm choosing a song to choreograph often a section will leap out at me and I know exactly how I'd like to dance that section, and then I build the rest of it up from there. It's seldom from the beginning! And then that song gets put on repeat over and over on the ipod, sometimes I've created full choreographies before dancing a step!

  8. #8
    Member Rassi's Avatar
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    I find music that I love and listen to it over and over and over again. I think about what kind of movement will fit with different sections of the music. Then I begin playing with moves and write down, in detail, the counts, the moves, the instruments playing, and times. I do it on legal pads, writing the times down the left side of the paper. It can take me literally months to choreograph a piece. When I'm finished, I type it up and keep it in a three ring binder. For me, choreo is mostly done for the studio troupe. I usually improv when doing a solo unless I'm using a prop like cane.

  9. #9
    V.I.P. Kashmir's Avatar
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    I stick it on repeat and play it over and over. Then I just improvise while it is playing - while doing other stuff - dancing dinner preparation, dancing housework (dancing programming doesn't work too well). After a few days or weeks of this, I sit back and sketch out the shape of the dance. If there is a bit that fits well I use it - then twist and repeat it. Usually I have more ideas than music. Then I trim and clean it up - ie cut back the number and types of moves.

    If I get stuck I loop the CD at the bit that I'm stuck on (a player with a A_B function is invaluable).

    I only add staging after the basic choreography is taught - but I'll often make notes for possible floor patterns, cross overs, waterfalls, etc at the time.

  10. #10
    Member lilith71's Avatar
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    This is awesome, everyone! I'm printing this all out to share with my sisters in class! Thanks for all the replies.

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