Choreographer’s Block

Over the course of the past few weeks, the studio has been preparing for its annual spring recital. For me, this means choosing music and costumes for each of my classes, choreographing a two to three minute piece, setting the dance on my kids, and then cleaning it (making sure everyone is dancing together, with the music, and using the correct foot, arm, etc).

Music and costumes have been chosen and the girls are working on learning their dances each week. All of my dances have endings choreographed to them (or mostly choreographed), except for one. I have choreographer’s block. My beginning pointe class is doing a routine to a string version of a very popular song. Its a lot of fun- I’m stepping out of my choreographic comfort zone of using solely classical music for ballet, and my kids get to mix their new pointe shoes with their jazz flair to a song they know and love.

I have moves made up for about half of their two and a half minute dance. I have listened to both the string and original versions of the song so many times I could probably sing it in my sleep. The song makes me want to get up and dance and let loose, which makes sense that I would choose a song that inspires me. But I’ve lost that inspiration.I turn on the music, mark what’s already choreographed with the intentions of improving until I like the moves. Yet nothing comes. No big picture visual of shapes and patterns in space. No short movement phrase. No thought of “we’ve been working on this particular move in class and it works well with the music here”. Nothing.

Maybe I’ve listened to the song too many times attempting to choreograph moves to it and its lost its magic, becoming just musical phrases strung together instead of a cohesive, inspirational whole. Maybe I’m having difficulty merging their intermediate to advanced ballet technique, their beginning pointe technique, and a jazzy feel. Maybe I’m lost because I didn’t have a full choreographic vision from the start other than “dance the music” – no character or concept to guide me. Maybe I’m at a loss because I’m reaching further out of my comfort zone and was bound to get stuck at some point.  Maybe I’m having trouble because I’m trying to dance in what feels like one square foot of living room space or mentally choreograph while driving.

Problem is, I have a deadline. My students need to have learned their entire routine by the end of the month in order to have ample time to clean, polish, and make the dance performance-ready. Gives me 3 weeks (due to spring break) to choreograph and teach another minute or so of the dance. Often in life, we see that there’s nothing like a fast-approaching deadline to send us last minute inspiration. That deadline induced inspiration helped me put an ending on all my other dances, but this one piece is still giving me trouble.

Crossing my fingers that arriving at the studio early for class tonight, tying my pointe shoes, and listening to the song for the thousand and first time will be my lucky charm.


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