by Sara Coffield, Student, Canada’s National Ballet School
As a dancer, learning choreography is always a highlight. My favourite scenario is to work with the choreographer in the studio. I think it’s so exciting to be there in the moment while the steps are being created. It’s also very rewarding to see the final product after working on the small sections during rehearsals.
Usually when learning classical ballets, the steps come naturally and then it’s a matter of memorizing the order of the steps and such. The challenge comes when you take the classical steps that are so familiar to things in ballet class and make them artistic and have a performance quality. When learning a new kind of movement in the more contemporary style, it can sometimes feel like you’re writing with the left hand if you’re a right handed person. I think, though, that if you can understand the purpose and ideas behind the movement (and of course practice a lot), then the more unfamiliar styles come easier.
I have also choreographed and fortunately will be choreographing a piece for the Assemblée Internationale. I haven’t ever really felt awkward when choreographing on fellow students. Sometimes, I think it can be a benefit because since the cast members are sometimes your friends, they understand how much the piece can matter to you as a choreographer. The first time a piece is shown, my hand are most definitely sweating but I think I learn from my work each time I see it and from that, continue to grow to make more pieces!