By Abigail Keyes (SL5/JL5)
Creating choreography doesn’t have to be daunting, and yet for many of us it can feel like an insurmountable task. We struggle with remembering the sequence of steps we have created. Others have difficulty silencing that voice in our head that tells us that our work is too simple, not impressive enough, or just generally “not good enough.” But it doesn’t have to be that way.
In the Salimpour School, we teach dance composition in a specific way that allows for the dancer’s personal creative voice to shine… and helps the dancer overcome many of the common struggles when creating personal work.
Our education program equally values both setting choreography and improvisational skills. Suhaila often says that choreography should have look of spontaneity and freedom of improvisation, and improvisation should have the structure and practice of set choreography. One is not more worthwhile than the other. In fact, they inform each other along a spectrum.
We make sure to set you up for composition success, starting in the lower levels. Here’s a peek behind the scenes at the work we do at the Choreography 5-Day Workshop.
First, Earn Your Level 2 Certifications… And Take a Suhaila Format Level 3
Once a dancer has earned their Level 2 certification in both the Suhaila and Jamila Formats, they are eligible to attend both the Choreography 5-Day Workshop and the Improvisation and Live Music 4-Day Workshop. Both focus on the art and act of making dances within the context of Arab culture, music, sentiment, and etiquette.
We recommend that a dancer attend at least one Suhaila Level 3 Weeklong Workshop before attending both the Choreography and the Improvisation/Live Music workshops, because our exploration of dance composition truly begins there.
But even before that, we are preparing you for composition. Our standard technique classes almost always end with a combination. Here you learn how steps are threaded together, how the technique becomes a dance. In the Level 2 Weeklong Workshops, we introduce the concept and practice of “The Grid.” The Grid divides the stage and the audience each into 3×3 squares, so we can better manage our movement patterns through space on the stage, as well as our energy projection into the audience.
Beyond the Grid and learning combinations, the Salimpour School has developed a collection of invaluable tools for creating meaningful, personal, and culturally-informed dances.