Power of Movement

Choreography can make or break a routine and it doesn’t matter how good your skills are, bad choreography can affect your score sheet. When I say ‘choreography’ I am not just talking about dance but the routine as a whole, each section from jumps to tumbling is just as important as a great dance. Being able to choreograph a seamless and creative routine can be a hard task.

To come up with good choreography you need to have confidence in what you are coming up with and not be afraid to be different. If you start to doubt yourself you will spend hours going around and around in circles. The key to good choreography is to be original and not just copy a team you liked from last season. When you start working on a routine make yourself a check list, be sure to include:

1. Formations – This is a great place to start, grab a piece of paper and draw a few ideas for each section of your routine. Experiment with your formations triangles, diamonds and “V’s” are so over used, try come up with something different.

2. 8 counts – Write down how many 8 counts you want per section of routine.(This is important when getting music made).

3. Movement/Transitions – Make sure you spend some time focusing on the choreography of movement between each section and formation. Bad transitions can leave a routine looking messy and unorganized.

4. Feel/style – Figure out what kind of feel and style you want for your routine, use something that fits your athletes.

5. Skills – Make a list of the skills you have for each section, when it comes to choreographing them it will make your life nice stress free.

6. Music – Be sure to have music before you start, music can always be edited. Trying to do choreography without any music can be done but, is not the best way of going about it and if you don’t have your music you should at least have a song in mind that you plan to use.

Here are a few tips on what I think are the 3 most important parts of choreography:

Formations

Routine after routine I keep seeing the same old formations whether its a triangle or a diamond they are so over used. I feel that coaches think there is this set rule that all your dances and jumps must be in a diamond or triangle shape and your stunting should all be in a horizontal line across the floor. They are afraid that if they try something new there routine wont look as good. I am telling you now this is not the case and what tends to happen is if your formations are original compared to the other 9 teams in your devision, your team will potentially score higher for choreography. Try and use a few different formations during a single section this can add dimension and create great visual effects. Here are my top 6 tips for having good formations:

1. Look around your gym,office,bedroom or even outside all of these place are full of shapes and formations once you found something you like draw it and try it with your athletes.

2. Don’t be afraid of trying something abstract and different because remember you can always change it.

3. Think about what is going to happen next when placing athletes in formations don’t have people start on one side of the floor if 8 counts later they need to be on the other side.

4. Line of sight – make sure people can be seen especially if you have a small team having people stand directly behind someone else will make your team look smaller

5. Formation size – if you have a team of 10 kids don’t spread them out over the whole floor they will look disjointed and if you have a team of 30 don’t try and bunch them all together in the middle of the floor.

6. My most important tip of them all, take your time when doing your formations. They are extremely important to the overall look of the routine, be original and don’t just copy someone else.

Transitions

A transition is the movement between two formations and is the next important step when choreographing your routine. Many teams find it hard to make it look seamless and to have their routines flow from section to section. This is due to a number of things and one of the main causes of bad transitions is under-developed planning. When transitioning you do not want to have people having to move from one side of the floor to the other, this looks messy and unclean. Another reason is a lot of coaches don’t even think about their teams transition and don’t see how important they are. With the very few 8 counts we have to use we need to have quick,fast and clean transition in order to not use up to many counts. Here are my top 5 tips for creating good transitions.

1. Practice,Practice,Practice spend some time at training actually practicing the transitions making sure every athletes knows when and where they need to move to. Make sure they pick a path and stick it not try and go a different way every time they move.

2. Use different levels instead of always turning around and moving standing up try moving bent over or moving backwards or in groups.

3. Add motions when you move. Try and add some choreographed motions while your moving this can be used to create great visual effects.

4. When moving from section to section make sure everyone is clean don’t have half your team running around with there arms flapping all over the place while the other half is moving with their arms glued to their sides.

5. Treat a transition as just another section to your routine spend time thinking about it. Good transition can take a routine from flat to flawless.

Music

Music is one of the biggest factors when it comes to choreography. Music sets the mood, tempo and style of your routine. Here are my tips on picking the right music:

1. Unless you have the time,money and skill don’t do it yourself. Research and find a professional talk them and see what kind of price they can do for you. Most of the time it isn’t as expensive as you might think.

2. Song selection is very important and will set the mood of your routine try and think outside the box and not use songs from the top 20 chats they get so over used and when you here the same songs in every mix it can be boring.

3. Pick songs with good lyrics that relate to the feel and style of your routine and lyrics that will pump your athletes up.

4. Use voice over to help make your music original.

5. If your having trouble picking songs, pick a theme first this will make it easier as all you have to do is find songs that match your theme.

6. Music is so important and the difference between a team with good music and a team with bad music is massive. Take it seriously don’t just pick songs for the sake of picking songs.

4 Steps To Polishing A Routine

1. Focus on body positions. It will improve the overall look of your team. (Shoulders pulled back, Arms position, head position, feet together).

2. Train your eye to watch the routine as a whole and not focus on one person. You are trying to achieve consistency.

3. When coaching, make sure that each athlete understands the moves. The coach needs to be strong and perform the routine vocally. Using words will help your athletes memorize routine quicker. Example: step, high v, punch, punch, low v,

4. Isolate counts. This is the most important element of polishing. Break down the routine count by count. When going through a routine clarify each count. Drill it over and over.

There you have it. Some simple tips that will make your choreography consistent, sharp and hopefully original. If you have some tips to create great routines feel free to share your thoughts below.

This article was provided by Daniel Dunn from Next Level Cheer. Next Level Cheer offers a wide variety of skill clinics and choreography services for more information please email nextlevelcheer@mail.com.

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Nick Coupland

Nick has been involved in the cheer community for over 10 years and has competed nationally and internationally in a level 5 team. He now coaches in Brisbane and specialises in tumbling and helps run tumbleclinics.com.

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