Stick to what you know unless you know that the new way works
There are many ways to create dance and because I am interested in dance research I enjoy playing the trial and error game in order to find new and innovative ways of working. However, until I know what works and what doesn’t, I think it is best to stick to methods that I know will work and expand from there. There is no point in fixing something that is not broken. This would only complicate things.
If you have a successful way of working already, use it and add to it. Don’t eliminate it, especially when you are in a time restricted creative process. If you don’t have a current way of working I’m sure that this post on “what influences choreography” will help.
I used to always be so eager to finish a new work that I would know what the dance looked like before I had even started. Although this sounds like it is a really positive thing, it was, for me, quite the opposite. It was restrictive and left no room for spontaneity.
If this sounds like you, you should use your “end goal” as a guide but don’t let it prevent you from allowing accidents to happen in the studio. If you are filming your work and you or one of your dancers get something wrong, but it actually looked better than the original movement, change it. Allow it to happen and see it as an added bonus to what you thought the end result would be.
Look at You Beliefs
Do you tell yourself you are not very creative? For a long time, I did. I told myself I wasn’t good at improvisation and that I preferred to be a body as an instrument for someone else, rather than a body who has a voice and mind of its own. This is fairly common amongst dancers; I listened to a podcast the other day about what it is to be a choreographer and the guy who was leading the show told himself he wasn’t very good at choreography and so he just danced everyone else’s ideas instead. Of course, he later went on to realize his talent as a choreographer, but it took time. It took time to learn and to believe that he did have a mind of his own.
If you look at it this way, choreography is just a physical language. Think about how you arrange a conversation when you speak; the tone of your voice, the pauses, the gaps when you are thinking of what to say next… Dance can be the same. Also, remember before you talked, you used gestures to communicate and you probably still do now in addition to speaking.
To be a choreographer you have to be open to the possibility that you are more creative than you give yourself credit for. Everybody has the ability to create dance and I think non trained dancers can sometimes create more interesting movement because of the lack of technique imprinted as habit within their body (Subject for another post).