Tuesday, February 24, 2015
a Large Production Piece
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
. 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