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How to Choreograph Like a Professional

  • By Rio Spelling
  • Published 01/30/2012

Following from my previous article titled ‘Easy Guide to Understanding Choreography’ which introduced the discipline as well as some of its core techniques, this article will outline the process and steps involved in choreographing a dance routine as if you were Craig Revel Horwood.

Key Tips for Getting Started as a Choreographer

Some people have natural flair when it comes to dance and designing movement compositions. Nevertheless, you will need an understanding of the basic techniques and jargon to be able to create a sequence for dancers to follow. In addition, choreography requires time and patience – hard work is a given!

If you’re hoping to choreograph as a career, it is best to have a dancing background because you will then have the experience and know-how as a solid background to guide your dance composition. You will also need to be a good performer, have lots of self confidence and be open to working with a range of different personalities.

Firstly, the process of dance choreography entails building your inspiration and overall vision for the dance composition you would like to create.

Secondly, you will need to hire dancers on a project-by-project basis. You will be forming a collaboration of dancers in which each performer has their specific role in perfecting the dance.

Next, a choreographer should have specific ideas for the day’s dance when coming into the studio, outlined in your mind or on paper or shown in computer program animations. You will bring your ideas to life in your dancers through the processes of description and demonstration, improvisation, direction and revision, incorporating the shape, space, timing and dynamics of the dance.

Once the main composition has been sculpted, you will then begin the process of its final enhancements through breath control, costumes, lighting, music, props and the set.

The last stage before the composition is complete will involve final modifications and editing of the dance sequences.

Steps to Take When Choreographing a Dance Composition

1 – Choose a Style

There are literally hundreds of dance styles, both classic and contemporary, to choose from. Your decision will be based on your inspirations as well as what will suit your dancers. You can choose to keep it simple by sticking with one style, or mix it up to add more complexity.

2 – Choose a Song

The music should complement the style or dance you’ve opted for. For example, slow songs work well for ballet, while the flamenco would naturally entail faster, more passionate melodies. The music score can make or break any production, so try to give it careful thought as well as finding something ‘outside-the-box’ that will make the composition more memorable.

3 – Outline the Core Dance Steps

Before actually writing the full dance composition, it’s a good idea to first compile a list of steps that would work for your chosen style and music.

4 – Break the Routine Into Sections

The easiest way to divide your composition into clear, manageable sections is to listen to the song – identify its sections, give them names and see how they repeat. Also be aware of the moods that go with each of these sections as this will affect the dynamics of the dance steps. It also helps to draw a line graph to demonstrate how the melody flows.

5 – Dance

Now comes the fun part, but also the hard slog. Begin dancing the steps you have envisioned to see whether they work well. Start with the basic footwork, then once you’re happy with that, move on to the arm movements. It’s helpful during this process to make a recording of this so that you can go back and objectively critique the dance sequences.

6 – Practise Makes Perfect

Anyone who excels in something, particularly physical activities, knows that there is no getting around exhaustive practise, until the movements are honed to such perfection that you can almost do them in your sleep. At this stage, it is good to get feedback from people you respect, as well as to continually edit even the smallest moves until they flow seamlessly.


Armed with the above information, you can easily get started as a choreographer. Accomplished choreographers like Craig Revel Horwood will tell you however that creating a dance composition requires 110% of your energy, skill and commitment to bring about a successful result. Nevertheless, if you love dance, you will relish the challenge.

Author Bio: Rio Spelling is a choreography and dance enthusiast



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