By Rebecca Swol
A common misconception in dance instruction is that since choreographed dance routines involve a group of dancers doing the same motions at the same time, they do not allow dancers to express their individual talents.
Teaching whole-group choreography for the sake of team building and social skills is an important component of dance instruction. Learning how to dance alongside others celebrates how alike we are as individuals. But it is also important to provide opportunities for dancers to let their differences shine through.
Here are three ways teachers can encourage creative expression in choreographed dance:
Include solo performances.
Solo performances are a great way for students to express their creativity. Instructors should encourage dancers to select the song, style of dance, and choreographers to assist in the moves they want to perform, or the story they would like to convey.
Another opportunity for expression is through frequent games that allow dancers to interpret the music as they please. For example, instead of just opening the floor to “Freeze Dance” you can put a twist on the game by instructing them to “dance as you think a giraffe dances.” Then you get to see the different motions they come up with!
Showcase individual talents at the same time.
Choreography often involves students by showcasing their strengths. Take the time to get to know your students and learn what makes them unique. If one dancer excels at fouette turns and another rocks at leaps, have them each perform their step at the same time to demonstrate their individual talents to the audience.
As you can see, group choreography celebrates dancer’s similarities, but teachers can also encourage dancers to embrace their differences through creative expression. By incorporating both of these into instruction, it creates the right balance in a group performance, and dancers become leaders who are confident in their own ideas, skills, and talents.