Tips for Choreographers

For most college students, it’s that time of the year when they go back for the spring semester. For me, that means it’s that time of the year where I have to get my creative juices flowing. That time of the year where I have to start thinking about all the pieces I am going to be choreographing this semester. Choreographing a new piece is a long, and most of the time, a stressful process. Alvin Ailey once said “choreography is mentally draining, but there’s a pleasure in getting into the studio with the dancers and the music”. When I choreograph, I always go through the same process, and maybe if you are trying to choreograph and get stuck then maybe this process will help you. Although there are plenty of times when I want to rip my hair out, at the end of the day seeing my piece on stage is the most rewarding thing. Here are some tips for you:
First things first, you need to get inspired. You can find inspiration in anything and everything. You can find inspiration in things happening in your life, the news, the weather, a daily chore. Literally anything can give you inspiration. Once you have that inspiration make sure you jot it down. Then I suggest you do some research on the subject. This can be as simply as gathering pictures about the topic or reading books about it. From this research you can get even more inspiration. Images you find can give you ideas for movement or shapes that you would like to incorporate into your piece. When I choreograph at school I am required to have an “inspiration box” which pretty much means I have to have a box and fill it with everything that has inspired me for my piece. This started out as something I was required to do for school, but now I do it every time I choreograph. It helps me to remain inspired and when I feel stuck and get choreographers block, the items I put inside my box help me to feel re-inspired. Being inspired and having inspiration is probably one of the most important things while choreographing.
The next step for me is picking a song I feel will best portray my story. I always choose to tell a story when I choreograph. I feel better connected to my dancers and to the movement as opposed to just placing movement on dancers. (Of course this isn’t always possible. When dancers are young sometimes the best thing to do is to just place movement on them while they are still learning.) Choosing the right song is probably one of the hardest things to do. You want to choose a song that compliments your movement. You don’t want the music to tell the story for you, you want the movement to do that. The music just enhances it. I must go through 50 songs before I choose the final song. I research a bunch of songs about the topic my piece is going to be about. You know that saying about soul mates, when you find the one you’ll just know? Well, that’s how choosing my songs are for me. Trust your gut, when you find the best song, you’ll know.
When I do finally choose that song, I listen to it over and over and over and over again. The reason behind this is because when I listen to songs I subconsciously choreograph in my head. While doing chores around the house I listen to the song and without realizing it the movement comes to me. I only realize it when after a week of listening to do song all the time, I’ll lay down put the song on and close my eyes. I’ll see the movement in my head and before I know it I’ll have some of my piece choreographed. What usually ends up happening is I’ll have pieces choreographed. Now, I’ll have to go back and fill in the gaps.
When you first get into the studio and have these dancers staring back at you. That might be a little intimidating. However, don’t let it. You’ll quickly realize these people are actually probably intimidated by you. The first thing I do with my dancers is shared to them what the piece is going to be about and show them the items that are inside my box. Then I’ll play my song for them and have them listen to it. Then I’ll have them do some improvisation as their characters. This allows me to see how my dancers move and it sometimes gives me inspiration.
Remember, choreographing is a process. It takes time and is long a stressful. Don’t get discouraged. Take this tips and make the best piece you can possibly make. You will feel so accomplished once you see your piece put onto a stage.

Nutrition for Dancers

With the New Year just passing, now is the time for people to be focusing on New Year’s’ Resolutions. A lot of people make their resolutions to start working out more, going on a diet, overall to become healthier. With dancers the common stereotype is that dancers have some form of eating disorder. In fact 83% of dancers met the criteria for having an eating disorder. It is better to be strong and healthy than it is to be skinny. How can we as dancers make sure that we aren’t falling into this stereotype and take care of ourselves?
The first thing you need to be aware of is what exactly eating disorders are and what are their symptoms? Eating Disorders are psychological disorders that are characterized by abnormal eating habits. When people hear the words eating disorders they automatically think anorexia and bulimia; which are when people don’t eat enough. However, eating disorders consist of the other extreme as well, overeating. Anorexia, Bulimia and Binge Eating Disorder are the three most common forms of eating disorders. Some of their symptoms include inadequate food intake, intense fear of gaining weight, overly sensitive about the image of their body.
For us dancers, our bodies are our instruments. Therefore, we need to take good care of ourselves. We need to make sure our bodies are getting enough fuel to keep up with the amount of energy we exert. It is estimated that female dancers need between 45-50 calories per kilogram of body weight. Male dancers need about 50-55. We also need to eat a lot of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the main energy source for muscles. If you feel yourself getting tired during classes that may be because you aren’t taken in enough carbohydrates. Bagels, breads, pastas and rice are all great sources of carbohydrates. Another good way to make sure you are getting the right nutrition is to eat small meals throughout the day. It is better to eat 6 small meals a day, instead of eating 3 big meals a day. This is because you will be getting more energy throughout the day. Always, make sure when you take classes you bring water with you. Every time your instructor gives you a break, make sure you are drinking water. While sweating in class you can lose up to 2 liters of water an hour, which is why it is so important to stay hydrated.
Let’s stick to our New Year’s Resolutions in a healthy way!
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder call toll free, confidential helpline 1-(800)-931-2237; the National Eating Disorder Association.

Art Education Benefits Children

“Art has the role of helping children become like themselves instead of more like everyone else.” said Sydney Gurewitz Clemens. Sydney Clemens has been devoted to early childhood education for the past 50 years. She uses her love for the arts to help them grow as individuals and help them with their education. The arts have a huge impact on children’s lives. However, more and more schools are cutting the arts out of their programs. In most schools, art education consists of dance, music, visual, and theatre. When it comes time to do the budget and cuts have to be made; these are the first classes to go. During the 2009-2010 school year only 3% of schools across the United States funded dance classes.
In recent years the implementation of Common Core and the No Child Left Behind Act have been taking over school systems. These programs have put all of the focus on Math, English, and testing. Elementary school children are coming home with 4 hours of homework a night, on top of being in school for 7 hours; that’s a total of 11 hours of school work; multiple that by 5 days a week and that’s 77 hours of school work a week. That is more hours of work than adults who work a full time job. Children have also been learning topics that their brains are physically incapable to comprehend. For example; 2nd graders are being taught what 4th graders should be learning. This alone stresses them out, and then add the amount of work they are getting.
Art education has many benefits to young children. It gives them the opportunity to be creative. It allows them to express themselves and get out any feelings they may have bottled up inside. Children can create something and feel proud about it. Dance can also improve their physical health. Dance allows children to become aware of their body through the various movements they might have to do. It also allows children to interact with other children. Through this they can develop lifelong friendships. Dance can also teach children how to work together. This is something that is very important for children to learn at an early age. Dance can also be a stress reliever, especially to young children. Dancing will allow them to get out all the energy they were bottling up because they had to sit behind a desk for 7 hours at school.
Clearly art education is important for young children. It needs to be brought back into schools. If children are denied the opportunity to have an art education then museums, theatres, dance companies, bands etc. could be extinct one day because children now aren’t being introduced to these programs. Art education teaches children to be creative, have confidence, and so much more. We need to bring art education back into school programs.

the arts are the building blocks of education