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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Ballet Festivals and Competitions?


Molly

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Hi guys :offtopic:

 

So this August I will be starting at Virginia School of the Arts for the year round program (I'm super excited!) One of the many things I will have the opportunity to do is to compete in the National High School Dance Festival. Instead of doing a variation, we are supposed to choreograph our own piece. Then, everyone who wants to compete shows the director at VSA their piece, and some of us will be chosen to represent the school. I've been to their website multiple times, but there are some things that I just can't find the answer for, and a couple of other questions I had about choreographing my own piece...

 

-How do you chose your music? I know the time limit is 3-6 minutes, and I'd assume that the song cannot have words, but do we have to find un-copyrighted music or something?

-What is the best way to start choreographing? I choreograph dance pieces all the time, but they're always for more than one person, I'm having a lot of trouble trying to think of steps that flow together in unison without being broken into separate parts.

-For choreographing, does the piece have to be strict ballet? Or can some more contemporary steps be thrown in?

 

Thanks in advance! And sorry if this is in the wrong place, I've been trying to figure out where to post this forever. :offtopic:

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You're talking about a lot of the basic concerns that beginning choreographers have in all respects with creating an original work. Bear in mind that you're talking about a solo for yourself, so you know a lot about what you can do, and what you look good in doing.

 

This is choreography, so while you get to choose what kind of dance (ballet, jazz, modern) to use in an original work, and mix it up if you like, it's best to keep the styles and vocabularies harmonious, and will assist you in that "flow" issue.

 

I would stay away from pop music. Practically everybody else will be setting something to "the latest", and it might bore the audience. Do some research. Find music that isn't heard everywhere. Keep the work to the short side of the guidelines. Dancing a five-minute solo is enough work for anybody!

 

The issue of copyright is important, of course, but the use proposed seems to fall under "fair use doctrine". Educate yourself about copyright laws and their application to use for dance. There are even other kinds of law that can apply here, like probate law. Some composers leave the Curse of the Cat People on their works, and prohibit their use for dance. "Fair use" does not apply here. With regard to copyright, anything created in 1926 or before is generally in the public domain. Mozart hasn't sued anybody over copyright in YEARS! :offtopic:

 

The only way to start is to start. You've already started by doing the brainwork involved in setting an original work.

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Molly, even 3 minutes is a long solo, especially if it is classical. I would keep it to that, if I were you!

 

Back in the dark ages, when I first had to choreograph something, I went to a friend who had a huge music collection. She knew a lot about music and composers. I wanted to do something classical but different, like not using the most well known ballet composers. She gave me stacks of records....yes, records....I did say the dark ages! :offtopic: Anyway, I just listened to lots of things, and finally chose two composers I liked. The first work I did was set to Satie music. Then the next year I used the other composer's work, and that was Poulenc. Both works (these were both group pieces, not solos) were quite successful, and the experience taught me a lot about music that I had never had the opportunity to learn. (After that, I studied music and piano, and learned tons more that became a very important part of my work as a teacher.) :offtopic:

 

I think, as Mr. Johnson said, that you first need to decide what genre of dance you want to do. Then start listening to music. Lots and lots and lots of it! Classical music radio stations, youtube, Amazon, and anyplace that you can listen without having to buy until you decide what you want. If you choose something that is very short and does not have to be cut, that would be good. If it has to be cut, make sure that you get help from someone who knows how to do that and will know if the piece can be cleanly cut and maintain it's integrity.

 

I would not worry a great deal about copyright since you will be doing this in an educational situation, but it's always safer to choose something that is from a composer who has not been around for a while. :offtopic:

 

In terms of getting started, listen to your music over and over for a while. An idea for what the piece is about would be good to have before you start. Then go in the studio and just start moving. When you do something you like, do it enough times to get it into your kinetic memory, or, write it down or film it, so that you don't forget what you did!

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Thanks so much guys! I had one piece of music picked out right now, (The song "Yellow" by Coldplay, but preformed by Vitamin String Quartet so it's instrumental, it's so gorgeous!) but I'm thinking that might fall under the 'copyright' area. Would that me correct? And what's the best way to find 1926 music? Just google searching?

 

The genre I will be doing is going to be ballet, with maybe a tiny bit of some contemporary stuff thrown in. But of course, that won't be set in stone until I actually choregraph it. ;)

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I'm not familiar with that music, but it sounds like something that is quite contemporary. You might want to look into more classical composers, like from the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. :offtopic:

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Well, that is an interesting piece, but I would have to assume that it was composed well after 1926. :wink: However, as I mentioned before, the fact that you would be using it in an education situation may put it in to fair use. I would, however, check with VA School of the Arts first.

 

In terms of finding other music, you could go to the library. I would start with Classical Collections, where you can find CD's with music from a lot of different composers. In terms of youtube or Amazon, I think Amazon might have some Classical Collection CD's, and maybe there are tracks you can listen to. You can also talk to your teacher about finding music, and maybe someone you know who studies classical music. Your studio really should have quite a collection that you could borrow or listen to there at the studio when there are no classes going on. Good luck.

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Thanks Ms. Leigh! But would it still count as an edcational situation if I was choosen to compete at NHSDF?

 

I think I'm going to run by the library real quick beofre I leave for work today. :wink: I will also search amazon. As for getting music from a teacher, I can't really do that because I don't exactly have a studio right now, in a long over dramatic story that's all ready been solved. But only for this week, then I'll be going to the Milwauke Ballet SI.

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You will need to ask the VA school director about that, as I don't know. Sorry.

 

If you don't find something this week, I'm sure there will be lots of people at Milwaukee Ballet who could help. :wink:

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I think you're going to have to ask the VA people what they have in mind, too. I looked up the NHSDF site, and under "Young Choreographers' Showcase", it says "no solos". Apparently, the school is adding a layer of selection, but for what purpose, I know not.

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