Offering student choreography opportunities has been a unique and rewarding Dance and Music Academy tradition for many years. This year, five DMA students will set their own choreography pieces on their fellow dancers and present their works at various performances throughout the season. Besides enhancing the dynamic between our own dancers, the student choreography process gives students a taste of the responsibility and experience professional dancers commit themselves to.
Dancers audition their work on their fellow classmates, compose their cast of dancers, and teach their choreography over a series of rehearsals. Time management, accountability, Students Natalie Shubny and Nicole Sasaki shared their choreographic process with us.
Natalie has choreographed a modern piece with four dancers, naming it Midnight City. She decided to pursue idea of student choreography because she believed “it seemed like such a unique opportunity that would be so cool to participate in.” She began her process, simply by listening to a variety of songs and listening for a song that stuck out to her as a story or idea. During the audition, she watched specifically for the dancers adapting to her personal style and choreography. “The creative freedom is a great way to help discover our individual style and learn more about our dancers and ourselves,” said Natalie.
“I think it’s very important that DMA offers the student choreography to the older dancers because of the way that it helps to immerse us in a more professional setting,” Natalie stated. “It helps teach us as well to be more individual and learn the skills necessary to really be a choreographer.” Student choreography opportunities expose our dancers at a young age to another layer of the dance world that they would otherwise experience later in life.
Nicole decided to choreograph a contemporary-open-styled dance called Warriors, a song that, to Nicole, encourages perseverance and combats the everyday frustrations that weigh us down. Nicole is thrilled to choreograph, saying she “always had ideas of movements in (her) head but (she) never put them into action… dance has really helped me out mentally, physically and emotionally throughout my life and I wanted to portray that through (her own choreography)”. Nicole began her choreography process similarly to Natalie; by blasting her chosen song on repeat and really letting the lyrics and music sink in. She then tries out some choreography both personally dancing and writing her ideas out on paper. Nicole enjoys the story aspect of the choreography process. “It’s all about like getting that frustration out and working your way up to withstand the hardships in day to day life.”
The student choreography process has positively affected dozens of dancers over the past decade of DMA dance. We look forward to continue to offer student choreography as an option to grow as a dancer in more ways than solely technique. “ It is a great a way to express you as a person without showcasing you physically,” Nicole concluded. “I think it’s important for dancers to learn how to express their movement, style and feelings without just dancing themselves.” Our student choreographers have made us so proud, and their dances showcase genuine hard work and passion for the art of dance. The finished student choreography works can be enjoyed at many of this season’s performances.