Apart from as a child and teen, being in my dance school annual shows, I’ve never done choreographed dances.. Certainly not within a partner dance context. But this weekend I went to the local west coast swing flash mob workshop. I probably can’t make the actual flash mob in September, but I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn some set moves and practice a routine to a decent standard.
There was a reasonable number in the workshop, pretty much even numbers of leads and follows. Some had already learnt the routine and were using the workshop as a refresher, while the more local dancers were new to it.
Weekends aren’t good for everyone for dancing – I know usually I’d struggle because it’s family time, but I thought it was worth going to. For half the class who would be at the flash mob obviously it was essential to learn the routine, for the other half of us, it was a bit of fun and still a session not to be missed.
There always seems to be a bit of a hum over choreographed versus social improvised dancing. And that’s across all dance styles. Choreography is usually seen in competition dancers, and there can be a bit of stigma. Some social dancers won’t do choreographed routines for various reasons:
I’m never going to be in a competition
I’m not good enough
You lose the ability to social dance/lead or follow
It’s antisocial because you’re always dancing with the same person
It’s boring and repetitive
Obviously most competition dancers social dance as well. And the antisocial argument doesn’t stand if people are learning a group routine because you often rotate around the group as part of the piece.
But even if you’re not going to do competitions, do the flash mob or be in a performance group, there are still benefits to learning a choreographed routine:
1, You get to go over moves and perfect them
2, You get to try moves you might not come across in class
3, Often a workshop is a smaller group of people than a normal class night, so you may get more attention from teachers on corrections
4, You get satisfaction of seeing everyone dancing the same routine in formation
5, Repetition of moves really helps with muscle memory and chances are you may be able to use some of the moves in your social dancing
6, There can be some good camaraderie through all learning a piece together. Yes, in a small normal class you can get this, but there seems to be more encouragement learning a set routine for a purpose
7, You can get styling ideas
8, You get to tax your brain and it makes you remember steps in order, something that often gets forgotten once you leave a normal class.
9, You can often get to dance with one person rather than rotating. Rotating is great, and I’m all for that, but choreographed routines let you work round things together and you know you’d have someone to dance to that specific song for in future…if you got on well together.
10, You get to dance
I found it really interesting and satisfying to realise that 3 hours in we’d learnt 4 whole sections of a dance from scratch, could dance in formation to the music and get through the track. It can certainly be a confidence booster and because everything’s broken down well, you can usually remember a large proportion of the moves.
Have you done many choreographed dance routines, or are you a strictly social dancer?