Who does the choreography for your clogging team? For Fancy Free Cloggers, it varies. We use routines learned at workshops (often with minor tweaks, such as cutting the music). We also have routines choreographed by a single team member. However, the dances we seem to love best are those we create as a team.
After completing a practice session for Smoky Mountain Encore, several dancers stayed on to put together our new traditional line routine. It was one of our better choreography sessions, thanks in part to advance preparation. This included:
Choose the music
We picked the song at the end of last year, so everyone was at least familiar with the full-length version. Getting this decision out of the way beforehand allowed everyone to be in a mindset of cooperation instead of lobbying for his/her song choice.
Edit the music (if needed)
Cutting music, whether to meet time requirements for competition categories or simply to shorten a repetitive song, can be a time-consuming task on its own. Not knowing which parts of the song will remain or trying to make cuts on the fly can slow down and hamper the choreography flow.
In this case, teammate Dustin had a polished cut of our music ready to go!
Count the music
Full credit goes to Dustin for setting us up for success. He had his cut of the music counted out and divided into sections, ready to take notes. It saved a lot of time to know exactly how many 8-counts before the music got to certain parts, etc.
Having this prep work out of the way allowed us to listen to the song cut and jump right into choreography. The process was confusing, chaotic, hilarious, and fun!
Everyone tried steps they thought might fit the song. Sometimes, a dancer was told to “save” a particular step to use when we got to a different section of the routine. Other times, one dancer suggested a step and another dancer tweaked it slightly to fit. Or, we combined the first half of somebody’s step with the ending of somebody else’s step. Good thing we took notes!
“Teamwork” is truly the key to this process. When feedback can be given and received freely without offense, ideas flow better. It felt in a way like an improv class:
“Let’s do this step!”
“Yes, AND let’s angle it to this side and emphasize the stomp.”
“Okay, and then we need a step to bring us back to center.”
“What did you just do? That looked good. But do it with an intimidating presence.”
“Is that even a thing?”
“Make it a thing!”
By the end of practice, we had the entire dance choreographed! There is still much work to do to fully learn it, teach it to a couple folks who weren’t there, and fine-tune details, but we feel good about what we accomplished in a single session.
Look for this new competition routine to debut at Shindig in the Valley (Maggie Valley, NC) in late April.
FFC has plans to replace several of our competition routines this year, so there is more choreography work ahead, including routines with the added complexity of changing formations.
If the rest of our choreo sessions can be this enjoyable, bring on the chaos!
Do YOU have any tips for choreographing with a group?