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The Choreographers' Slump

It’s August. Classes are now being devoted to learning items to be performed at the end of year concert. Fresh, fun, exciting new routines are being created by talented teachers. Some teachers are full of exciting new ideas and their feet are itching to get started on the new choreography that has been swirling around their imagination for weeks, sometimes months. Other teachers on the other hand, are full of panic and dread.

The term ‘Writer’s Block’ is widely known, but what is it called when a teachers’ creativity is blocked? I regularly suffer from this problem and have termed it, ‘The Choreographers’ Slump.’

It always starts out well. I know what group I am going to teach, what style and what song. For the first minute or so of the routine, my creativity is overflowing: the moves come naturally and the routine just works. Then, out of nowhere, something happens: the ideas just stop.

Do not despair! I have collected a short list of tips, sources and methods that you can use to overcome this hurdle and overcome it quickly (before you have to resort to teaching ‘The Macarena’ as part of your routine):

1.     Music : Make sure that you are inspired by your music. Don’t just choose a song that is amongst the top ten in the charts. If you can visualise moves to a song, while you’re listening to it, then it’s inspiring. If you can’t, and it’s only appeal is a catchy beat, keep hunting for something that makes you want to move.

2.     Video clips/live performances/dance classes: There is a huge pressure to create something new and innovative, which is silly because, in reality, there are no new dance moves: only recycled moves that are linked together differently. If you watch a music video clip or attend a dance class, the chances are that you will see at least one dance move that captivates you. Take it and incorporate it into your own choreography style. Make it your own. Once you have a few moves down, you will be surprised by how quickly the rest of the routine comes to you.

3.     Do something else: Standing in front of the mirror with the music blaring and demanding yourself to make up some choreography will not work. It will not force you to create anything, at least, nothing that is up to the standard that you are capable of. It has been proven that dwelling on a problem will not assist in solving it. So, stop thinking about it. Put it aside and do something else: walk the dog, go for a run, rearrange your bedroom furniture etc. Believe me, within the following few days, an idea will naturally come to you.

4.     Friends and colleagues: Fellow dancing teachers and students are invaluable resources. Use them!

When the audience sees your visual masterpiece onstage, I promise that there will be no sign that there was ever a lull in the creative process.

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