Student Blog: The student choreographic process

February 16, 2016

By Celine Kiner

Our BFA midterm studio showing is quickly approaching! It includes a few repertory performances and one dedicated entirely to student choreography. Our Improvisation & Composition class with Prof. McManus has prepared us well for choreography, but each one of us is unique in our own style, background, and thoughts. From what I’ve seen of this semester’s student works, our choreography is well-served by Forsythe’s improvisation techniques, which comes as no surprise. Compiled below are a few words about our choreographic processes.

“The thing that’s so compelling to me is being able to dance and feel good at the same time; often, people don’t feel good while doing ballet. Or, they don’t feel the freedom or empowerment that they have with other styles. So with my piece, I wanted to see what I could do about making a piece that was so tight, so iconic, as free and gigantic as possible. I’m also inspired to add a film into the works…we’ll see if there’s time.”Paulo Hernandez-Farella

“My choreography process can come easily, depending on what mood I’m in and what I feel at that moment. Some days I can create a minute of choreography within a 10 minute span of time, and other days it’s impossible to choreograph anything. I am usually inspired by the music and the people around me; because I listened to my song last minute, I ended up changing the piece and the choreography right before my first rehearsal. But I never regret the changes I make, because I like to see what feels good, and then change it if I’m not satisfied with the aesthetic of the movement.” – Mark Daftari

“I typically have an idea that comes to mind, and I will write it down. Sometimes I will find the music first, then idea, or vice versa, but once both are set I leave them alone for awhile. I will play the music everyday until I can hum, sing, or hear it without hearing the song. I improvise a lot, to get an overall feel of movement ideas and then wait to have the bodies to teach. Before the choreography is released I have a name. Names are so important to me, because audience members remember the name more than the movement. I do choreograph on the spot, and try not to over prepare, because sometimes it’s not natural.” Austyn Rich

“I have a vision about an end goal of what I want to achieve (usually inspired by a piece of music, but not always). I create work that feels right, but when setting it on dancers I have to be sensitive to their strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes I see something working so clearly but it doesn’t work, or the dancers I work with come up with something even better. So I always have to be open to that and not be stuck in my first specific thoughts.” Rachel Walton

“So my piece is based around two people sharing a secret; however, instead of talking, they are spelling each letter out with their bodies. I have been trying to incoorporate everything we have been learning in improv class and contemporary, so the piece is a mixture of styles I have picked up on over both first and second semester. The last time William Forsythe was here, he said something like, “what makes a piece interesting is when it goes from big to small to big to small,” so I’ve been playing around with dynamics and challenging myself to have a lot of variance within the movement I am creating. I do not know if I have been successful. I guess we will find out at the showcase.” Jessica Muszynski