Even if you don’t choreograph all of your performances (and in belly dance you probably shouldn’t, unless of course you direct a dance company), you will come to a point in time where you just feel stuck. The ideas aren’t flowing, you feel like you’ve done the same combination over and over again, you want to add some more pizzazz or flow.
Here are 6 simple ways to start getting over choreography block:
1. Take another dance class
Nothing like getting the creative juices flowing like putting yourself out of your comfort zone! Look up some local dance classes that are out of your expertise and see what you like (and don’t like). Sometimes when we choreograph (and teach!) we forget to put ourselves in the mindset of a beginner learning the dance for the first time, but doing so opens up the possibility of adding in moves or sequences we might normally disregard as “too simple”. Get back into a dance class and feel what it’s like to learn something new all over again.
2. Support your local art community
Attend a new art show, new concert from a local band, etc. and see what inspires you. It may not be dance but you never know; the colors, the environment, the mood, the music may inspire you to create!
3. Record your practice sessions
Next time you are in your studio improvising or drilling, just let the camera roll and watch yourself after. Not only is this a great way to keep your technique in check, you can also get a chance to see how you interpret music when you’re NOT trying to choreograph and study your most brilliant moves & combinations.
4. Revisit old choreography
Old is gold! Take a look at what you’ve created before and see what you can build from it. If you have choreography from previous workshops with other teachers, take a look at that too and see what parts you liked the most and how you can interpret it.
5. Look on YouTube for inspiration
out what some of your idols are doing and see how you can fit it into your own style. If you’re choreographing for a large group then it’s definitely beneficial to check out the videos as to see how it looks like from the audience’s perspective and on camera.
6. Get organized
This is a tip I learned from Karen Barbee from Texas: get organized with spreadsheets. You won’t want to rely on this every time because it may become too robotic, but it helps if you’re feeling stuck and just need to fill in a certain section of a song. In one column on Excel I write down all the counts of 8 (or 6, depending on the music), in the second column I leave it blank to fill in the movements I want, and in the third I may write in the lyrics or translated lyrics so I can see if there is anything worthy of interpreting through movement based on the song (like a specific gesture in Shaabi, for example). This is a great visual way to actually see how much of a song you have left to finish and a great way to keep the notes for future reference.
What are your favorite ways to get rid of choreography block? Share in the comment section below!