What exactly are you paying for when hiring a guest choreographer? Well, I’m here to tell you and give you a small peek behind the curtain! As a free lance choreographer and teacher I spend most of my time traveling to studios nationwide. A studio normally reaches out to the choreographer of choice and communicates how much and what type of work they are looking for. Solos, duos, trios, small groups, large groups and sometimes even production numbers. It’s then determined what style is needed for the competition season. I usually choreograph Jazz, lyrical, or contemporary pieces, but mostly contemporary!
Dates are set and flights are booked. Now what? Well I spend hours pouring over music waiting for something to inspire me. I can’t create without a song that speaks to me and shows me exactly how the piece should go. I am a big believer in each piece having a specific intention and story. Once the song is selected and the studio approves, I usually have to cut it to meet the under 3 min requirement. I edit all of my music since it is sometimes stressful sending it out to someone else. That usually takes a bit of time and dedication at my computer to make it sound how I want it to.
I then spend time brainstorming concepts and ideas. Sometimes that entails props, costume design, staging etc. Every choreographers process is different but I can’t create much more than a chorus unless I am in the studio with the dancers. I need to feel the energy in the space and get and idea of what they can and can’t do. I won’t be the one on stage so it should feel good on their bodies, not mine. Most parents and studio directors only see the in studio process but there is so much more that happens behind the scenes.
I love what I do and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It can be a long and hard process with months of traveling but creating art fuels my soul and I consider myself extremely lucky to call this my job.