What Every Emerging Choreographer Needs to Know

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Making the decision to put your very own choreography on stage can be a very daunting task and the endless list of questions can be overwhelming: Where will I create movement and rehearse? How do I find dancers to set my movement on? Who can I collaborate with? Where will I be able to present my work? How will I fund this?

But remember, everyone has to start somewhere and you are definitely not alone. We have asked the following expert choreographers for guidance when it comes down to these fundamental elements.

1. Whether you are performing someone else’s work or your own, be prepared.
“You are your instrument and that instrument has to be well oiled. First and foremost, protect it, strengthen it, and make it as versatile as it can be, as strong as it can be, so you can do many different person’s works. You’re supporting your athleticism and your artistry, and then you’re going out and exploring different people’s movement on your body."—Heidi Latsky (Heidi Latsky Dance)

2. Trust the process and your unique journey.
“Everything led me to the place where I am now. The confusion in the transition of letting go of my old patterns and opening up to new patterns was the biggest challenge, and I’m proud of the way I figured it out. I probably would not want to be so hard on myself, but I think it’s only natural to struggle to get to that place and struggle to let go a little bit.”—Wendy Whelan

3. To be a successful creator, it is important to be proactive, as well as seek like-minded individuals for your collaborations.
“I really think that summer festivals are great places [to meet other dancers] and just going to see other people’s work is huge. Also going to see other people’s work where they feel like they’re at the same level as you. If you move to New York and you see the [Alvin] Ailey Company, you’re probably seeing dancers who have been in New York for 10 years. You can be inspired by that, but if you really want to meet somebody who you can make a duet with, you may want to go to some of the smaller venues where people are self producing and see someone who is at a similar moment in their life and in their career as you.”—Monica Bill Barnes (Monica Bill Barnes & Company)

4. Challenge yourself to do better than you’ve done before.
“With every new show we make we’re trying to one up ourselves. This feels like the perfect and most organic next step. We’re constantly reinventing ourselves onstage within the structure that we give ourselves.”—Anna Bass (Monica Bill Barnes & Company)

5. Don’t be afraid to share your joy of dance on social media.
“The more that the public gets excited about dance, we also will have more support: donors that we all need for companies and organizations, so that we can grow and be respected as an art form. Stuff on the internet gets people excited about dancing.”—Diane Jacobowitz (Dancewave)

6. Use the resources that you already have, trust your gut, and take the leap!
“Lynn [Peterson] and I believe full heartedly in following your gut and leading with your gut. Within that first year out we knew that we wanted to make work and make an organization and travel kind of the longer arch, so we looked at what we had in front of us and what we could do. [...] For SYREN Modern Dance’s first event, we literally just rented City Center Studios and just packed it. We made flyers, we made post cards, we got everybody in the world we could think of to come and we made I think it was 5 little pieces and we just knew in that small little event that this was exactly what we wanted to do and how we wanted to grow.”—Kate St. Amand (SYREN Modern Dance)