Contributing behind the scenes......
When I was in high school, I was very involved in theatre, choir, and dance. As one of the stronger dancers in the program, I was a captain of our schools show choir, as well as choreographing dances for local community and middle school theatre programs. Out of everything I was involved in, this was one of the most rewarding experiences, knowing that I was able to contribute to the show in a behind the scenes way that brought it to life onstage.
My favorite dance that I ever choreographed was in a community theatre production of Anything Goes to the song “All Through the Night.” The song is a duet between two of the romantic leads, but I wanted to add another layer to the staging so I incorporated background dancers. I combined ballroom and lyrical type dance steps to convey a fantasy like feeling to audience members, similar to a Hollywood “dream sequence.” I was so proud of how it turned out, and at the time it was the most advanced dance that I had choreographed. This was one of the first times that I felt my choreography was not only a good fit for the show, but also helped bring up the performance quality and took it to the next level.
The most meaningful experience I had while choreographing was when I did a dance for a middle school production of The Little Mermaid. This was a tap dance to Scuttle’s song “Positoovity.” The challenge I faced with this however, was that of the 7 girls I taught, only one of them knew how to tap dance. I didn’t really know this until I went to the first rehearsal with the girls, but all of them were so eager and willing to learn, even though they knew it would be hard. Each time I went in to work with them it was apparent they had practiced on their own and were so excited they were making progress. This experience was so fulfilling because the girls went from being uncomfortable and confused with the dance to having fun and feeling confident in the performance they were putting onstage. So many people complimented the number and told the girls it was the best one in the show - and it wasn’t the best because of the choreography, but because of the girls hard work and determination to put their best foot forward in their performance. This experience was a huge confidence boost for all of them, which is so valuable for middle schoolers.
The thing I like most about choreography is the ability to make a performer feel confident onstage. Dancing doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and it takes a special approach to help performers feel comfortable in their dance abilities in front of an audience. When the performer has a positive experience learning the choreography and likes how it looks, it directly translates to their performance onstage. I know this because I’ve been on the receiving end of it - when the learning experience is bad, the group’s motivation decreases drastically. Being a choreographer is not only coming up with performance material, but also fostering the personal growth, motivation, and confidence among young dancers.
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