I feel like it's becoming crunch time here... Competitions start for us in less than 2 months and there is so much to do besides just choreography. Costumes, Competition entry lists, entry fees, schedules, extra rehearsals dress rehearsal, and the list goes on and on.
For me and many other studios I find really hard to not want to jump right into choreography every Fall in anticipation of competitions. The kids are all excited for the year ahead and I'm just bubbling over with ideas. I do start our Production right away, as it takes 6 months to get done, but I try to hold off on as many other numbers as I can. The major reason being that the kids learn and grow so much between August and now that it doesn't make any sense for me to choreography numbers too early.
This year has been moving along nicely for me, and I have finished every number I've started very quickly. Sometimes in only one or two classes and I have all the choreography done. I'm letting my work be a lot more organic this year instead of focusing on unnecessary clutter in my routines and it makes them flow a lot smoother. The kids are working harder in class this year and we spent a lot of time earlier in the year doing combos in class, so now their skills at picking up choreography have improved and we can move on quicker. Maybe my scenario sounds too good to be true, but I've put a lot of work into my teaching this year so that my students and my choreography can all be better.
In the past month I have completed laying out almost all my choreography, so now I have time to fine tune and clean them up. However, until today I one last solo left to even start. This student is in a lot of groups and had other solos to work on as well, so I left this one on the back burner. We met up at the studio for an hour session today and I probably could have stayed there all afternoon just doing it. The choreography flowed out of me and into her body and it just came together the way I had imagined it would. It's one of those haunting songs that stays with you after you hear it, and I have had many dreams about new choreography and tricks for the piece. It's not quite done... but I'm already going out on a limb here and saying it's some of my best work this year!
I guess what I keep re-learning every year is that I don't need to rush into choreography for competition season. Part of the game plan for the year is bringing the kids up to a new level and then choreographing them a dance to fit that. Normally by the time you get to a competition the dance might be way below where a student's abilities are at that point. I want to push my students choreographically to the limits of their talents, so I have to time working with them just perfectly. It is something I have not mastered yet with every student, but I think I got it right today.
Next year at this point when I'm looking back and reading my own blog I'm going to be able to remind myself to hold off doing some choreography with those students I know can handle it later on in the year. I want to give them plenty of time to grow into the piece and really get it, but I also want to be able to give them something fresh.
I can always tell at competition the numbers that have been cleaned for 3 months straight in anticipation of performance, because the dance just looks stale. It's even true with some of my own numbers, so in the next month I'm going to go back and make some major changes to kind of wake up the kids and liven up the dances. I have new ideas about each piece I've choreographed and I think it's fair to incorporate them now instead of waiting until next year to do something new.
You can't make every piece you do the last one... but maybe just leave something special for the end that makes you really excited to go into the studio, even on a cold Sunday afternoon. I am a self proclaimed master-procrastinator, but maybe for the first time in my life it works to my advantage.
Oh crap... now this routine needs a costume too!