Arts & Culture / Dance / Mosaic / October 26, 2011

Diverse creative processes create unique dances

Each term students flock to Harbach Theatre to see their peers perform in the Terpsichore Dance Collective (Terp) show. Each dance is the result of the creativity of a choreographer.

Each choreographer has a unique process to create the movements we see in the finished product.

Junior Jenny Linder builds her choreography around a certain movement style, song or theme.

After experimenting with many techniques, senior Jamie White has settled on a method of choreographing during rehearsals, when, he said, the dancers are “all in the space and all able to create movement together.” This, he said, makes his dances more interactive and natural.

Junior Kyla Tully, on the other hand, likes to improvise to music on her own and later teach these movements to the dancers.

The inspiration

White draws on his own life for inspiration.

“I’m trying to explore choreographing pieces that are more relatable to my own human experiences,” White said, because it is “easier to create believable movement with believable influences.”

For example, White’s dance in the upcoming Terp show, a story of six friends who realize they are growing apart, is pulled from his own experience.

Many of Linder’s ideas comes from her own past experience with dance, such as her experience auditioning, which led her to choreograph a dance for dancers whose auditions were not the strongest. Another example is her Rockettes style dance, which grew out of her experience dancing with the Rockettes one summer.

Throughout the process, Linder said she has epiphanies similar to those of writers regarding her choreography. She writes these down in a notebook or sometimes video records them to come back to, which will later be pieced together into a rough outline.

Tully finds inspiration in the music. She takes what she thinks and feels while listening to the music and tries to keep these in mind as she creates movement to accompany the music.

The research

Tully uses Stumbleupon and Youtube, as well as iTunes to find music and inspiration for her choreography.

White also spends hours on iTunes investigations, finding a stream of music in the style he is looking for.

Linder watches a lot of dance movies and dance performances and reads about dance to get ideas for her choreography.

Putting it together

Linder has a general idea of the piece and then fills in the gaps. During rehearsals she goes through what she calls a “cleaning process,” where she makes sure the dance flows, remains connected and has a balance between slow and fast, high and low, blunt and cryptic.

Tully also describes the way she often has to adjust her choreography during rehearsals to fit the dancers.

“It can take a while,” White said. Sometimes it will take an hour-long rehearsal to come up with 20 seconds of choreography.

The final product

Tully loves to teach the dancers and to “see it all come together … the finalized product exactly how you wanted it.”

Linder also enjoys “the excitement when you keep making movement sequences and they keep coming together.”

White loves, “when a group of different people can invest in an idea and go through a physical attempt at performing it.”

He said, “It’s a continual exploration of yourself and how you create and externalize what’s happening in your head.”

Gretchen Walljasper

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