This is the moment. The school musical needs a choreographer. You have been tasked with teaching a Physical Theatre unit. Your students are pestering you to help them create a movement theatre piece. What to do? Where to start? How to organize a group of enthusiastic but unruly teenagers to wow the audience with that polished, professional-looking piece of creative choreography. Or, how to even just create something you can put on a stage?
First, breathe. Every choreography, from ballet to hip-hop, even the stunning and inimitable ones on America’s Got Talent, are built on a set of fairly simple choreographic principles that you can learn. Once you have understood these principles you can then explore and combine them in any imaginable way.
How do I start creating and developing movement material?
One way is by theme, e.g. an emotion such as anger or joy, a topic such as sports, holidays… you can even create an expressive choreography created around the theme of Sleep!
It sounds counter-intuitive, but the most useful tools initially for choreographers when creating and shaping material are structures and constraints because paradoxically, constraints foster creativity and imagination. A theme is, in a way, a constraint – anything we create has to fit the theme and express a relevant aspect or idea. Another example of a constraint might be that participants can’t move their feet and can only create movements that are anchored to the floor. Or they must use different body parts to create spiraling movements. Games are also a form of constraint with a specific set of rules that provides a structure.