Hello everyone and welcome to the first Friday and FTT blog post of the new year! With a new year comes new goals for everyone and the opportunity to try something, well, new! If you are a dance instructor like myself, I’m sure that you have been receiving lots of calls, emails and such about choreographing solos for competitions, recitals and other endeavors that your students are a part of this year. For me personally, solos are one of the things that I love to choreograph the most because they are so unique from dancer to dancer! As I prepare for a new line up of solos for my own students, we thought it would be very fitting to dedicate the first post of the year to all things choreo and solo prep! So for all of my fellow teachers that are in the solo preparation pool as well, this one’s for you! Here are six pointers for creating a beautiful solo. Let’s get started!
- The Song Choice
When choreographing a solo, naturally music choice is everything! After all, it is the canvas against which your dance is set. When choreographing solos for my students, I like to give them the liberty of choosing their own solo songs and sending them my way so I can have a listen. I’ve found that when dancers are allowed to pick their own music, the entire solo becomes something that becomes far more personal and memorable. This brings us to our next point to creating a wonderful solo…
- Find Out What It Means To Your Dancer
The next step that we advise when creating a great solo is that after your dancer picks out a song that they would love to dance to, find out what that song means to them. Music holds such personal meaning to people and surely whatever song your student chose, it holds great importance to them to some capacity. Once the music selection has been made, ask them what they get out of the song, what it is about the song they enjoy and how it makes them feel. Once you’ve gathered all of that information, we then move onto the next step of our choreographing process, which is…
- Tap Into That Feeling
Asking questions regarding the chosen music and getting inside the mind of your students is no doubt the first step in the right direction when choreographing a solo. The way I like to think of it is that the song may be the canvas, but the relatability between your dancer and the song is the paint that we need to begin the masterpiece. As you’re choreographing, keep in mind the discussion you had with your dancer and how the song makes them feel. Choreograph from the mental space of what this all means to them and take a step into those shoes. Tap into that emotion, tap into that feeling, whether it be joy, hurt or triumph. Even find some relatability of your own regarding the music to help add to your own personal connection to the song while choreographing. This step is so important because the more your dancer feels connected to the song and the emotion put in it, the better they will perform. And that, my friends, is something we love to see.
- Keep Skill Level In Mind, But Take The Opportunity To Support Growth
This next tip is one that we have mentioned in past choreography themed blog posts and that is to always keep in mind the skill level that your dancer is on, but still allow space to introduce elements that will help them grow. Being on stage alone can be a pressurizing experience in/of itself, especially if this is their first solo. By staying in their skillset lane with your choreography, it will make your dancer that much more comfortable and confident. However, growth is always encouraged and rather necessary to support a broader range of knowledge in your students. So be sure to be mindful of the line leading up to too much difficulty, but add in some new moves and tricks to add to their repertoire!
- Play Off Of Their Strengths
When choreographing a solo, you want to make sure that your dancer is the point of focus in the best way and one of the ways to do that is by playing up their strengths. What moves does this student do the best? Are they a leaper or a turner? Is musicality something that comes super naturally to them? Whatever those strengths are, be sure to sprinkle them throughout the performance. It will be sure to add the perfect wow factor!
- Communication and Comfort Is Key
And lastly, our final tip is that communication and comfort for your student is key! After you have wrapped up the choreographing process and you two are now throwing everything around in the studio, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty. As you all are piecing the dance together, be sure to make the class a safe space of communication. Express how if your dancer is not comfortable doing a particular move just yet or is simply having difficulty, that it is okay to speak up. Solos are all about the dancer who is performing it and it is imperative that they are comfortable. Conversations such as these can lead to gaining better understanding, fixing choreography tweaks and achieving more confidence all around. So in the midst of creating a masterpiece, also create a safe space for your dancer to shine. It will most definitely show through the performance!
And that will do it for the first blog post of 2023! We wish all the best as you and your students dive into new endeavors throughout this year and beyond. As always, we hope you have a beautiful weekend filled with love, light and until our next blog post, remember…