Choreography Guide

With this year’s choreography competition only round the corner, here is your essential guide for making your dance a winner!

Choreography Competition – Sunday 7th November, 2.00 pm, Manor School

This years adjudicator has performed in Oklahoma (National Tour) and with the Royal Ballet – don’t miss out on your chance to  participate!

Choreography Guide – join our mailing list for a downloadable copy 


The music you choose to choreograph to is really important.  It needs to suit the type of dance you would like to do.

Classical Ballet – must use classical musical so no drum beat, chanting/singing or electronic sound.  Try to avoid music from the big classical ballets such as Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty etc.  Try composers such as Rachmaninov, Debussy, Bach, Beethoven, Elgar, Holst, Maher and Mozart.

Tap/Jazz/Modern/Street Dance – pop songs, electronic/synthesiser music, percussive music, movie or TV themes, songs from musicals, children’s songs, virtually anything!  Be careful with pop songs, which can be repetitive.  It can be good to use music with a change of rhythm or tempo so that you don’t end up doing the same movements all the way through.

Lyrical – love songs, slow tempo modern music, pan pipes, instrumentals etc.  If your music has words, decide whether you are going to dance the story of the song or ignore it and just dance to the tune.  You can use a variety of both ballet and modern steps.  Lyrical is usually danced barefoot.

Contemporary – anything a bit quirky or unusual – drums, chanting, music with periods of silence etc.  Contemporary dance quite often uses ‘motifs’ which are repeated during the dance with different variations.

Character Ballet – classical music, children’s songs, Disney – really anything except pop music.  The music needs to help create your character or the story you are telling.  You can be either a person or a creature (cat, butterfly, bird etc).  Your steps should be based on ballet steps but you can adapt them to suit your character e.g. flexing you feet.

Cutting your music

If a dance is too long, it can become really boring, even if the choreography is good so here are some time guidelines to help.

Junior Solo – 1 min 30 secs                                Duets – 2 mins                      Trios/Quartets – 2 mins     

Senior Solo – up to 2 mins                                 Groups 2 – 5 mins depending on size of group

Listen carefully to your music and pick out the interesting bits – try to cut out repeats and long introductions.  For modern/lyrical, is acceptable to fade the music out at the end.  If you get stuck, ask me for help.


 Listening to your music and improvisation

Listen to your piece of music over and over again until you know it really well and know all of the special moments and highlights in it.  Then start to improvise – dance around until you get a good feel for the sort of steps that go really well with it.

Choosing steps

Choose steps that your dancers can perform well, fit the rhythm of the music, link together well and if possible, that are original and interesting.

Floor Pattern

When you are choreographing, make sure that you use every part of the stage at some point.  Check for hotspots and coldspots.  It is a good idea to start and end on a hotspot.  If there are any dramatic moments in your dance, these should also be on a hotspot.

You may also want to think about costumes, props, scenery, special effects etc for your project.

Dancewise Choreography Competition

The 2010 competition will take place on Sunday 7th November at Manor School.   The winner will be invited to perform their choreography at the 2011 show at The Nuffield in July 2010.  And don’t forget the improvisation section – turn up on the day and dance!  The competition will be open to all registered Dancewise students.  Entry forms are available from Miss Alison or Jan.

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