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Newsletter  -  Tuesday, February 24, 2015

 

Choreographing a Large Production Piece

 

With Easter arriving early this year, there isnít a lot of time to choreograph and rehearse before we celebrate Resurrection Sunday. Since this is an event that deserves great celebration, we as movement ministers are often asked to choreograph a large production piece. If this is a struggle for you, let me walk you through the process that I use to choreograph such pieces.

          1.       Find the right music. The song chosen should have lyrics celebrating Jesus and what he did to restore us back as sons and daughters to the Father. A very important element for your song, besides the lyrics, is to find one that build in music and dynamics. The song may be softer in the verses, but it should rise in dynamics in the chorus. Towards the end of the song, you want it to continue to crescendo in intensity, grandeur.

          2.       Print the lyrics to the song.  Having the lyrics on paper will help you see the pattern of the verses and chorus. Before printing the lyrics, be sure to double space between the lines so that you can write movement and ideas. You will want to give extra spaces between the verses, choruses, musical interludes, bridges, etc. so that you can focus on them as individual pieces.  

          3.       Visualize the elements of the song. Find a quiet place where you can rest, close your eyes, and listen to the song several times. Ask the Holy Spirit to create with you. Invite Him to use colors, movement, lights, etc. to display His heart through the song. You will begin to see props (maybe even some that you may have never used before), color schemes, solo and group movement, etc. Write these down on your lyric page next to the places you see them occurring in the song.

          4.       Often I will outline the movement and song into what seems to be a natural progression.  When should there be a single dancer and when should there be more people moving? Verses are often the best time for single dancers to be the only movement or to have dancers take turns moving in solo pieces. Choruses are great for group movement. As the music crescendos, the visual picture you create should grow as well. Movement with flags, banners, streamers, long billow cloths, swords and shields, palm branches, a crown, etc. can be brought in progressively to build towards the big finish of the piece. Think about lighting and including video clips or photos on the screen as well. You may even picture dancers or young girls being lifted into the air to increase the celebration.

          5.       Focus on the message of your choreography. The verses of songs often do not repeat, therefore the listener has only once chance to hear their message. Verses also tend to be softer in musical intensity than the chorus. For these reasons, when choreographing the verses, keep the moves more simplistic and inline with the lyrics. You may ask dancers to choreograph their own interpretive piece to their solo in the music. The first time the chorus is sung, the movement should be more lyric intensive, but as the chorus repeats, movement can be more celebratory and less lyric specific. One thing that I try to avoid in large scale choreography repeating the same moves every time there is a chorus. It looks best to be in unison or in a tight group for a chorus, and then have dancers move in different directions, move at different levels, do totally different moves, or echo a series of moves.

          6.       Now begin to build with the props. You have outlined the dance pieces to the verses and choruses, now think about the props. What did you see when you listened to the music? Does the music begin with instruments only and call for some moves with billow clothes or people running past each other with flags? Does it need a procession down the aisle using some prop? Letís talk about the building the dance after the last verse is sung. Often there is a chorus, maybe a musical interlude, a bridge, and then several repeats of the chorus. I think of the final picture that I want the viewer to see. Itís like thinking of a finished wedding cake. Sometimes I have to sketch what I want that last visual image to look like. Now I begin planning how I am going to get to that final picture. I write on the lyrics and outline when certain props will come in, from where they will come, and what the people with those props will do with them.

          7.        Go to rehearsals completely prepared.  Everyone in the movement piece should be familiar with the song, so let them know long enough ahead of time what song you will be using, send them links to the song, and lyrics. Before you gather people for rehearsals, rehearse your directions. Go through the choreography, music, and your outlined notes again and again. Go to rehearsals with a prepared plan as to what you will teach and rehearse that meeting. Rehearsals will go smoothly and quickly if the choreographer knows what she wants each person to do and when they should do it. Begin the first rehearsal by playing the music and walking the participants through your outline notes so that they get the big picture of the dance. If you have assigned dancers to choreograph solos, ask them to have them ready by the first or second rehearsal. When the director has a clear vision and plan, those working with her will work harder and faster.

          I hope these seven steps help you as you plan your future dances and movement pieces.

 

***A new video!***

          We have not released a new instructional dance video in several years, but the wait will soon be over! Due to the increase of movie streaming, DVD sales of every kind has steadily plummeted since 2008. It became financially impossible for us to press new DVDs with the high upfront costs and large inventory that it requires. We searched for a way to offer our future videos through download/streaming. We hope that all of our future videos will be in a downloadable/streaming format that can be viewed on televisions, computers, pads, and phones.

          The first video that we are offering is to the well known worship song ďI Give You My HeartĒ. I choreographed this dance specifically to teach at a worship arts conference in Florence , Italy . This song has been translated into many languages and is sung in churches around the world. This song has broken the language barrier and brings the hearts of worshipers to the sweet place of loving the Lord. It can be done as outreach, as a special, or as a part of congregational worship. It can be danced as a solo or as a group. The video demonstrates how to do both of these. I think that you will not only enjoy learning this dance, but it will soon become a personal expression of your heart to the Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

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Last modified: February 24, 2015