Which comes first, the music or the steps?
I will not keep you in suspense. In my opinion…absolutely, 100%…music first, choreography next.
There are teachers and choreographers who imagine a certain type of dance movement and then seek out the music that will suit it. Some will have music composed specifically for a certain dance piece or there are pieces done to just a drum or spoken word.
My favourite part of the choreographic process is when the music tells me what to do.
It tells me.
I hear something and it just appears in my mind. My body just does it. It’s like magic! I would not want to work in any order other than music first, choreography second.
For me, (and I can only speak for me and there is no right or wrong way with an artistic process) dance is nothing without the music. Dance is an expression of the music. Dance is what my body wants to do when it hears music and while listening to music, often times my brain is making up steps to do to the music. I have now learned to turn that part of my brain off while driving though. I was a bit of a hazard operating a motor vehicle while simultaneously mentally choreographing.
Sometimes you have to choreograph focussing mainly on what looks good. Sometimes you get to just relax and do what feels good. Ideally you find the perfect combination of both. When the dancer’s body is doing a beautiful looking move at a precise moment in the music with a dramatic sound with a descriptive lyric that is all seamlessly tied together dazzling my eyes, drawing in my mind…well, that, my friends, is my nirvana! My bliss! Ahhhhh…dancing. Happy place.
I may have just found enlightenment. Hmmm…ok, maybe not.
However, I do love to choreograph and I particularly enjoy trying to find the right music and movements that will make my students FEEL. Feel happy. Feel brave. Feel the love. Ok, so some days it gets a little weirder and I find myself saying things like, “feel like an angry teenager” or “the grandfather on Parenthood died, this one’s for Zeke!”
To each their own! Choreograph what you like! Even if you don’t think you are a choreographer, when you hit a dance floor I know you become one, so you can relate. When you decide to raise your arms or shake your booty or flip your hair…that is choreography!
And I bet you did it because, magically, the music told you to!
And that…is dancified.