by Erin Brennan, Student, Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School
Learning new choreography can be a challenge for anyone. We all know that some styles come more naturally to some people, while others may spend hours trying to work out a complex arm movement. For myself, learning new choreography is always exciting. I love jumping into new works and find it’s often easier to really dance it when I’m first learning because I don’t feel it’s over worked.
That being said, a very important part of learning a new piece is cleaning it and going through each detail slowly to make sure it’s fully etched in my brain. After learning a new piece, I really like to get a copy of the music so I can work in a studio on my own time to go over parts I find difficult many times. This makes things much easier when I go to the next rehearsal and makes me feel more comfortable.
Working with a fellow student as a choreographer is quite an experience. Not only is it rewarding to be dancing a friends work, but it really is amazing what students can put together. Unfortunately, it’s not all fun and games. Working with a friend as your teacher can be stressful at times because all of a sudden, they are not another student in your position, but they are asking demanding things of your body. It can become frustrating and takes a professional attitude to make the best of it, but overall it is a wonderful experience that I have been privileged to have.
I have also been on the flip-side. I myself have been a choreographer for fellow students and had my work performed for a public audience. It was a challenge unlike any other in my life, but I would never regret it. Choreography is not something that comes easily to me, so I was blessed with some very patient fellow students as my dancers. Parts of the process were absolutely terrifying and I found myself worrying if my work would ever rise to my standard. Some rehearsals felt very unproductive as my dancers and I would get distracted after a long day of classes before hand, leading to much frustration when things didn’t string together as I had hoped. Other rehearsals felt great and I would finally see it all coming together as a whole, leaving the studio with a peace of mind.
The greatest reward was seeing it performed live on stage in front of an audience. At that point I saw all my hard work (as well as my dancers efforts) being poured out for the audience and it was an extremely emotional experience. It didn’t matter at that point that there were small flaws in choreography or technique, I had overcome my challenge and created an original piece of work. I think it’s an experience all young dancers should have at some point in their training. Not only did it force me to think outside the box and over come personal fears, but I gained an extreme respect for all choreographers and their masterpieces.